When it comes to ensuring bicycle safety with rumble strip design and installation, we’ve got a long way to go. But a new ranking by Adventure Cycling (view PDF) shows that there are at least four states where advocates and engineers can pat themselves on the back (though not too hard, yet).
These states’ rumble strip policies meet all of the bike safety design standards that they were evaluated against in Adventure Cycling’s newly released resource, Solutions for Making Rumble Strips Safer for Cyclists. This guide details best practices for state departments of transportation to accommodate bicycle safety, including a model rumble strip policy and design standards. This means that if you ride on a state road in these four states and encounter rumble strips, you should expect to find at least four feet of shoulder space, 10-12 foot gaps every 40-60 feet, and the rumble strip should be within six inches of the edgeline, among other criteria.
Notice the qualifier ‘should.’ The ranking evaluates rumble strip design as laid out in state policies and manuals, but it can’t account for whether there’s quality control in implementation. There can often be a gap between what’s written in the policy and how the rumble strips are installed. Which means that if you’re biking in these four states, don’t be surprised if you do find rumble strips that don’t conform to these design standards.
It is a starting point for accountability and provides a platform that we can stand on as advocates to demand better of our state transportation agencies. The League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Friendly America rankings have proven to be a very successful catalyst for advocacy by establishing what being ‘bicycle friendly’ actually means and providing a bike-friendly road map for communities, states, universities, or businesses to work towards so that they aren’t left behind.
Rumble strips have been a growing problem for bicyclists over the last decade, and with this new ranking, model policy and best practices publication, we now have the advocacy tools we need to make similar bike-friendly progress with state agencies on rumble strips.
We plan to reach out to state DOTs in partnership with state bicycle advocacy groups about their rumble strip ranking and how they can incorporate these best practices not only in their designs but also throughout the entire rumble strip installation process, including project development and quality control.
If your organization is interested in working with us, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d also love to hear your feedback on these new resources, how they are working for you and what other needs you have to move forward with rumble strips in your state.