New Scotland cyclist says broken collar bone due to poor condition of State Route 156

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

New Scotland resident Alex Orens claims the deteriorating state of Route 156 led to his broken clavicle. 

NEW SCOTLAND — Alex Orens said he’s doing “a little better, but not great.”

His injury is not unusual for cyclists, he said.

“It’s probably the most common injury” for cyclists, Orens said of broken clavicles, “falling on your side and sticking your hand out when you fall down; they usually get a plate and within four weeks, they’re back on their bicycle.”

Orens sustained the injury on June 11, riding on the shoulder of Route 156, estimating he was between a quarter-and half-mile from Picard Road, heading from Altamont toward Voorheesville. 

The state Department of Transportation has already patched the area where Orens’s accident occurred.

When he went to Voorheesville to notify the DOT about what happened, he said it was acknowledged that 156 is in poor condition, should have been repaved years ago, but is also on the state’s schedule to be repaved in 2025.

The department did not immediately have the information requested by The Enterprise, and told the newspaper to file a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain it.

Orens is still in pain, and he gets “these weird feelings down my arm,” if he moves too much.

He sees his doctor at the beginning of next week, at which point the decision will be made if a plate has to be put in, which Orens said is “pretty common.”

He said if he were younger, the doctor would have already put in a place. 

“But I have arthritis being an old guy,” said Orens, who is 68. 

He was told that plating can exacerbate existing arthritis, “so we’d like to be a little conservative.”

On June 25, Oren recounted for The Enterprise what had happened two weeks before.

He said at the time of the incident there had been traffic coming and going in both directions. 

Orens said Route 156 is in poor condition, while “the shoulder,” where cyclists ride, is narrow, in really bad shape, and “broken, basically”

A Picard Road resident, Orens said he typically avoids Route 156 because of its poor condition, but on June 11 he had the specific goal of cycling Westfall Road, just outside Altamont. 

Orens said he was cycling along 156, near the edge of the shoulder and the pavement, when a divot or pothole “caught the front wheel of my bicycle and dumped me on my right side.” He said he went from 12 miles per hour to zero “instantaneously, [and] fell on my shoulder and broke my collarbone.”

Orens described his cycling ability as “slightly beyond beginner.” He took up the sport again in August of last year after a six-year hiatus, prior to which he had ridden for two years. He estimated he currently rides between 100 and 130 miles a week.

While he did credit the state for its response, Orens said, “I also think there’s two ways to look at it: The state acted quickly, but has also known for a long time that Route 156 is in poor condition.”

Orens said when he recently went by the spot of the incident, a DOT crew was patching potholes. “So they are responding to my concerns,” he said, “and within a two-week period of time, which is, I would say by state standards, pretty phenomenal.”

But he noted, “I’ve lived here for 24 years; I have no recollection of 156 ever having been repaved.”

“Why Route 156 is so much different from all the other state roads so close by is just a mystery to me,” Orens said; he’s looked at routes 85, 146, and 443, and said, “They’re all part of the 55-mile-an-hour state highways.”

“None of them remotely look like Route 156,” he said, which “is a standout amongst those roads for its poor condition”; he also acknowledged it’s likely the least-traveled of the named routes

The most recent traffic data, from 2023, shows between Altamont and Voorheesville, specifically from Altamont just past the American Legion Hall on Altamont Boulevard to to just inside the Voorheesville village line on Altamont Road, at the intersection of Claremont Drive and Kling Terrace, between 1,876 and 2,285 vehicles per day.

At many of the recording spots along the other routes, save for 443, the traffic count is three, four, and five times that of Altamont Road. 

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