Rumble Strips: Don’t wake up tomorrow and find your favorite ride has been ruined!

Take Action On Rumble Strips with Caltrans

EBBC has worked with Caltrans for many years minimizing the troubling increase in the use of rumble strips in California. Many of you have read the report from the League of American Bicyclists outlining the threat and explaining how to take action. EBBC joined the LAB for a national conference call to strategize ways to work with state DOTs to protect our bicycle routes from indiscriminate rumbling.

Now, we need the members of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition to act.

What should you do?

Please visit the League’s Advocacy Center, and send this message to Caltrans today. And send this alert and link to your cycling friends and supporters urging them to take similar action.

More Background Information:

All users share the desire for safer roadways. Many of us are motorists, too, and we know the benefit of rumble strips as a wake-up call when we drift off the road. But, as cyclists, we also know there’s no such thing as a bike-friendly rumble strip. At best, they are uncomfortable and, at worst, they can cause cyclists to lose control of their bike and fall. In extreme cases, when rumble strips take up the entire shoulder, or when the shoulder is narrow or poorly maintained, the cyclist has no other option than to ride in the travel lane.

Almost a decade ago, the League of American Bicyclists and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition worked long and hard with the Federal Highway Administration and Caltrans to develop more tolerable rumble strip designs — for example, leaving gaps in the rumbles so that cyclists can cross them safely and ensuring rumble strips are ground in, not rolled. Advocates helped to create policies that ensured popular cycling routes and roads, with shoulders less than four feet wide, would not be rumbled without good cause — for instance, a documented history of run-off-the-road crashes.

It now seems those policies have been thrown out the window.

Today we are faced with a renewed push by the FHWA and state DOTs to rumble strip state highways as a matter of course and without regard to their own policies on appropriate placement.

In an attempt to prevent “roadway departures” by motor vehicles, rumble strips are seen as a very effective countermeasure: They do wake people up. But, to be effective on a particular roadway, the road must have a documented crash history, the shoulder must allow for adequate recovery room, and there can’t be any unintended consequences. For example, has roadway safety been improved if cyclists are all but forced to ride in the travel lane of a high-speed rural roadway, because the shoulder has been rendered useless by rumble strips?

This trend seriously threatens established cycling routes nationwide.

More importantly, this issue gets to the heart of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation’s recent policy statement that declares, “Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes.” We’re asking that federal and state agencies heed LaHood’s words and end the practice of “favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” Their own policies demand that they do so. The Alliance, along with our partners at the League of American Bicyclists, Adventure Cycling Association, and USA Cycling, has tried to work with FHWA on this issue. We have jointly asked them to re-issue their existing rumble strip guidance to states. We’ve met with officials in FHWA’s Office of Safety to ask for their help in applying their own guidance at the state level. And yet we learned recently that 17 states are leading a “Roadway Departure Prevention” program, which encourages the indiscriminate and wholesale application of rumble strips. Other states are sure to follow.

The hard-won policies protecting cyclists and cycling routes are being ignored.

We are not asking to end the use of rumble strips — they are a legitimate and effective safety treatment. We are asking for an end to the indiscriminate and inappropriate application of rumble strips that ignores FHWA and AASHTO’s own guidance on when and where they should be used.

We need your immediate support and action to stop this threat.

What should you do?

Please visit the League’s Advocacy Center, choose your state, and send this message to your state DOT today.
Send this alert and link to your members and supporters of your organization urging them to take similar action.
Don’t let the course of your organization’s annual fundraising ride get rumbled. Don’t let your roads become uncomfortable and dangerous for bicyclists. Take action for equitable rumble strip policies today!


Jeffrey Miller, President/CEO, Alliance for Biking & Walking

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