NYSDOT Proposing Widespread Use of Rumble Strips on Secondary Highways, Posing New Hazards to Bicyclists
Contact NYSDOT and Your Legislators—Urge NYSDOT Not to Jeopardize the Safety of Its Roadway Users!
CURRENT NYSDOT POLICY: Do not install rumble strips on secondary roads except in rare instances
PROPOSED NYSDOT POLICY: Installation of rumble strips will be the preferred practice in the design of all secondary roads with a few exceptions
Rumble strips are a well-documented hazard to bicyclists. Accepted practice nationwide dictates that rumble strips be used only sparingly on roads permitting cycling
NYSDOT is proposing an Engineering Instruction (EI), titled “Secondary Highway Audible Roadway Delineators – Guidance and Policy,” which is at variance with the practices recommended by the Federal Highway Administration, The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and other standards setting agencies. Such national agencies generally recommend if rumble strips to be used on two-lane roads if there is a documented run-off-the road accident problem—and then, used only as a last resort due to the hazards they may create for other roadway users, including bicyclists.
Contact NYSDOT and your legislators to urge NYSDOT to not issue the proposed policy. Ask them to work with groups, such as the New York Bicycling Coalition, organizers of bicycling tours and events, and local cycling clubs to construct a less hostile policy that better balances the needs of motorist and bicyclist safety.
BACKGROUND: Rumble strips, as illustrated, are audible roadway delineators or indentations in the shoulder pavement that make sound when a car runs over them at high speeds. While an important safety tool used to prevent run-offs on high-speed Interstates and other limited access highways, they are a well-documented hazard to individuals on bicycles and should be used only sparingly on roads permitting cycling. NYSDOT is proposing to replace current stated policy — not have rumble strips on secondary roads except in rare instances — with a new one declaring “installation of shoulder rumble strips to be the preferred practice in the design of all secondary highways” with a few exceptions.
In short, the proposal would have NYSDOT install rumble strips (with certain exceptions) on secondary roadways throughout New York State, compromising bicyclists’ safety and the quality of riding surfaces on thousands of miles otherwise scenic roadways. National practice is to have rumble strips nowhere with some exceptions on secondary roadways. By taking the opposite tack, NYSDOT’s policy promiscuously promotes rumble strips, going far beyond what is seen as efficient deployment. Aside from the policy’s cost implications, it is unwise. It means rumble strips in urban areas, creating or adding to the din. It means rumble strips on roads with speeds too low to generate sound. Rumble strips also mean higher maintenance costs for the taxpayer. And, of course, they pose a danger to cyclists by causing spills, erratic avoidance maneuvers, or causing them to avoid the shoulder and ride mingled in automobile traffic.
A check of other states with such secondary highway policies shows they require an accident analysis be done before such rumble strip use; the proposed NYSDOT policy does not. Other states specify where rumble strips are used, have at least 5 feet of paved shoulder between them and any guardrail; the proposed NYSDOT policy does not. Other states say not to even consider rumble strips unless there are high speeds and high traffic volumes: while the proposed NYSDOT policy does have speed and volume thresholds, they are considerably lower than those of any other state. There are dozens of other such examples in this EI where the proposed policy varies from generally accepted practice.
Action Alert from NYBC (Continued)
Contact NYSDOT and your legislators to urge NYSDOT to not issue the proposed policy TODAY. Call, write, or email (or utilize all 3 methods of communication) your Assembly Member, State Senator and the Commissioner of Transportation.
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How to contact NYSDOT:
Website: Click here to email NYSDOT https://www.nysdot.gov/about-nysdot/contact
Or write: Commissioner Stanley Gee
NYS Department of Transportation
50 Wolf Rd.
Albany, NY 12232
About the New York Bicycling Coalition
The New York Bicycling Coalition is dedicated to preserving New York State’s wide and smoothly paved shoulder network as an important asset for use by the State’s residents (bicyclists and pedestrians) as well as visiting cyclists. Since 1992, the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) has served as the only statewide, not-for-profit organization of its kind advocating various “Share the Road” education and safety initiatives on behalf of both cyclists and motorists, while working to assure highway, street, and transit facilities are amenable to bicyclists and pedestrians. Support Our Efforts to Increase Bicycling and Pedestrian Safety and Access Today by joining online: http://www.nybc.net/donate