Sunday, August 22, 2010

South Putt Corners Road - A Dilemma

I was quoted in the paper this week, "South Putt Corners is an accident waiting to happen." There is currently a petition being circulated by the New Paltz Bike-Ped committee requesting that Ulster County "restore the widening of South Putt Corners Road to its former high-priority status, with work starting in 2011." You can find more info at the above link - including a video - and find petitions at The Bicycle Rack, The Bakery, Bicycle Depot, Rock & Snow, Catskill Mountain Multisport, Bistro Mountain Store, or Eastern Mountain Sports.

Here is my dilemma. I live a stones throw away from the Middle School and my son, who starts ninth grade this September, and who has walked to school for the past three years, really wants to walk to the high school - approximately 2 miles each way. This would be great daily exercise for a kid who abhors organized sports, and even at a slow 15 minutes per mile pace, he could walk it faster than the bus ride.

What would you do? Would you let him walk? If so, would you send him up Main and down South Putt (more time on South Putt but sidewalks on Main) or down Rt. 32 and up South Putt (less time on South Putt but no sidewalks on Rt. 32)? See the poll on right to answer. (If you answer "Other", please provide detail in the comments section.)


Anonymous said...

There's a road next to the Apple Hill Farm that goes all the way to South Putt. It shortens the walk considerably and reduces the interaction with traffic.

kt tobin flusser said...

@anonymous - isn't that road private property?

Robin said...

My son frequently walked or rode his bike to the high school, first when we were living in the New Paltz Gardens apartments, and later when we were in a house about two miles down North Putt Corners. I think he even did it a few times after we moved to South Chestnut, on the other side of the village. It's not the safest commute, no -- but it's certainly nothing that a reasonably sensible high school freshman couldn't handle. I would prefer to see a bike/pedestrian path, yes...but I didn't let the lack of one keep me from letting my son express his independence (or deal with the consequences of oversleeping and missing the bus).

Martin McPhillips said...

Medieval monks might find this topic fit for a treatise, such as "On the Duty of Physical Risk Aversion During Mundane Activity."

But to keep it briefer than that, how about a simple calculation of "immediate human/motor vehicle exposure x duration of exposure = total risk."

So you are at best 3.5 feet from x number of cars traveling at app. 45 mph over app. 15 minutes per day for app. 100 (or more) days per year. Do a little math.

Factor in all of the things that can distract a driver, such as an animal running across the road or another driver swerving to avoid an animal or an object on the roadway causing the driver opposite to swerve as well. Sleep deprivation and diminished attention can be particularly acute during the morning hours.

Perhaps the odds are low, but the margin for error and hence the margin of safety strike me as precarious.

On the other hand, I have two friends, both women, who have been regularly riding their bicycles in Manhattan traffic for over 20 years each. But as one of them has said, you're never more than an opening car door away from disaster. Perhaps their record of remaining unhurt can be attributed to the high attention required for the close work of driving a car in Manhattan. Bicyclists are factored in that equation. Perhaps. I never saw the risk as worth it for either friend, but I was not the final judge.

Anonymous said...

yes, it almost certainly belongs to the Moriellos.

Bonticou said...

There used to be a path from about where the water tower is to the high school that the kids used. This was interrupted by a fence put up when the Police Dept. moved to their new digs. However, kids being kids, I suspect that a new section of the path has been/is being blazed as I write.
I'd let him walk, but keep knowledge of the bus schedule handy for bad weather.

Anonymous said...

I hope you let the kid walk to school. He's 15! Chill out, daddio. Reserve your fear for when he gets a driver's license.