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Bicycling and Rumble Strips: Problems for Cyclists

Overview

Rumble strips are raised or grooved patterns on a road’s shoulder designed to alert automobile drivers with noise and vibrations that they are drifting off the roadway. While there are numerous benefits to rumble strips for drivers, they cause considerable safety concerns for cyclists, often putting cyclists in a vulnerable position next to high-speed traffic. The League of American Bicyclists produced this report to address the negative impact rumble strips have on the ride-ability of a roadway, how they affect cyclists’ safety, and how rumble strips can be used properly to ensure the safety of both motor vehicle drivers and cyclists.

Key Points

Rumble strips pose serious dangers for cyclists riding along roadways. They are practically impossible to ride over on a bicycle. At best rumble strips are uncomfortable for cyclists but at worst they can cause cyclists to lose control of their bike and fall. These safety drawbacks for cyclists have prompted the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to provide guidance for communities to follow when considering rumble strips on roadways used by cyclists. More information regarding these guidelines can be found at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/pavement/rumble_strips.

Other report highlights include:

  • Alaska requires 6-7 foot shoulders on the roadway for rumble strips to be added and Colorado does not allow rumble strips to be added on shoulders less than 6 feet when a guardrail is present.
  • Providing gaps in rumble strip intervals gives cyclists a chance to avoid debris along the shoulder, pass other cyclists, and merge.
  • Pennsylvania, California, and Colorado have studied bicycle-tolerable rumble strip designs and determined similar conclusions about the ideal dimensions of rumble strips.

How to Use

This report provides basic information on rumble strips and the negative impact they have on the safety of bicyclists. Any community looking to install rumble strips along their roadways should read this report to gain an understanding of the best practices pertaining to rumble strips.

View Full Report: Bicycling and Rumble Strips: Problems for Cyclists (PDF – 225 KB)


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