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Rumble Strip Policy. A PCC policy recommendation to our SCDOT.

Kansas Rumble StripsThe Palmetto Cycling Coalition recently recommended changes to the Rumble Strip Policy at South Carolina’s DOT. A rumble strip is a repeated gouge in the left or right side of the road, in order to warn drivers who veer off the road, by making a loud rumble noise under their tires.  South Carolina has a lot of run off the road crashes and deaths compared to other states, and SCDOT decided rumble strips were the most cost effective way to lower the number of these deaths.  Unfortunately, a rumble strip on a road means it’s less safe for a bicyclist to ride.  If you have ever run into a rumble strip on a bike, you know how unsafe they are. 

There’s one thing we can all agree on:  we all use our streets, and we want Safe Streets

The Coalition advocated on behalf of our membership and in the interests of all bicyclists in South Carolina.  Here’s what the Coalition recommended:
  • A rumble strip should be a last resort.  Before a rumble strip is applied, consider other methods to enhance driver safety:  increase pavement skid resistance, add signage and markings, and improve roadway geometry. 
  • Reduce the rumble strip depth and width, and add a skip pattern, if you must put in a rumble strip. 
  • Formerly, rumble strips could only be applied to “rural” roads, with speed limits 45 or greater.  Raise the speed threshold to 50mph or greater, because every shade of cyclist uses 45mph roadways.
  • Within 100 feet of points of interference, such as curbs, gutters, or guardrails, don’t install a rumble strip.  It’s highly dangerous there. 
  • Keep rumble strips off bike corridors, in locally and regionally adopted Bike Master Plans.  Locals know best. A 5 foot shoulder or bike lane provides safe space for bicycle use.
  • Keep rumble strips off preferred cycling routes in rural areas, and keep them off the State Bicycle Touring routes.  If there’s a high crash rate for motorists on that road, only place a rumble strip there if you have at least 2 feet of clear shoulder width for cyclists.  If we must balance bike-ability with a dangerous driver zone, do it this way.  It’s imperfect, but this is our compromise.  Anything less is highly dangerous.  

Policy Note:  Most of these recommendations stem from other federal and state policy precedents.   Advocacy Note:  We work with local advocates, who in turn work with city officials and planners, to adopt more Bike Master Plans and more fully recognize preferred cycling routes, urban and rural.  We want fewer rumble strips, but if they must go in, we’d like to protect those areas we bike most.

11 Responses to Rumble Strip Policy. A PCC policy recommendation to our SCDOT.

  1. Douglas Smith August 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I totally agree, Rumble strips are very dangerous. I almost had what could have been a bad accident due to a Rumble strip being put on a road that I road my bike on a lot. I did even know that it was on the road until I had gone to far to turn around. Even if I had manage to turn around I would had to ride 15 mile further just to get home. I only had three miles to go when I encounter the Rumble strips.

    Rumble strips are not save at all for cyclist.

  2. steepclimbs.com August 26, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    I wonder if they really help with motorist safety. How often do people run off of rural roads? I’d be curious to see some numbers about this.

    They are horrible for cyclists and have already forced many of us to choose higher traffic routes within town.

  3. Fred Herrmann September 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Have you or the DOT considered the small white discs on the side of the road instead of the invasive rumble strips? We have both in the Charleston area and the discs are far less of a problem for bikers and may provide almost as good of a warning to motorists.

  4. fjt September 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    This plague of rumble strips on SC roads has spread like wildfire. When did the SCDOT ever move so fast to implement changes to the road system? I find it very curious that these features have appeared on so many road in such a short time. At the rate the SCDOT is installing these things most roads that bicyclists use will be rumble stripped. The PCC has been caught napping on this issue. What a disaster.

  5. amy johnson September 20, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    The PCC is working within a limited budget to proactively set policy AND respond to the issue. SCDOT is not responding well enough to our reasonable requests for accommodation, so we will soon launch a response campaign. It is dependent on the time invested by our constituents, and we stress again we are a membership driven organization. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, and you’ll soon see how you can become involved in helping respond to the issue. Anonymous posts are ignored. Transparent feedback is welcomed.

  6. Vince November 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Follow the money trail. Someone is getting rich on this rumble strip scam. You find the legislators who push this though & check their donors

  7. Dennis Robertson January 15, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    The reality is that when a bicyclist is traveling on a road with a narrow berm and these rumble strips, he or she is forced to move over into the main road lane. This is not only a worse risk factor for the bicyclist but also for the motorist. I am sure it is also a major nuisance factor for the motorist. I would expect that the end result is that there will be more accidents and injuries caused by adding these rumble strips than are prevented by them. This would be an interesting study.

  8. Bill Hines May 1, 2014 at 6:44 am #

    Martin Creek Road in the Seneca/Clemson area had a fairly wide paved area right of the white line. Before the anti-safety strips were put in last year, most of this road could be ridden right of the white line. Bicycle traffic is fairly heavy on this road and now requires riding about a foot to the left of the white line.

  9. Bdk July 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    More rumble strips showed up in my area and I do not believe it is at all due to motorist safety. Rather, there has been a strange coincidence of rumble strips appearing where a lot of big rigs travel. Those in the industrial drive area of Lexington know what I mean. It is my belief that these rumble strips are used to warn trucks before they run off the shoulder and reduce damage to the shoulder which slowly works inward on the road. Besides, if safety were the issue then why not a rumble strip down the center of the road to help with head on collisions. Oh, only one rumble strip down the middle wouldn’t lead to double the income in someone’s pocket.

  10. Steve Hutcheson August 1, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    More rumble strips (anti cycling strips) installed in Lexington over the past couple of weeks. This time on Charter Oak Rd. crossing over Hwy. 378 continuing on St. Peters Church Rd. Once again on roads often used by cyclist. Once again on roads that don’t meet the criteria for where rumble strips would do some good. Once again at the cost of my right to a safe roads. Geez! I feel like this is another “Thank God for Mississippi” moment for our state. PCCCSC apparently has no influence when it comes to some kind of reasonable solution. It’s almost as though the SCDOT sees the installation criteria as being – too many cyclist therefore, install rumble strips to dissuade them from riding.

  11. Greg Efner January 27, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    I noticed today that the road up Ceasers Head has had rumble strips installed all the way to the North Carolina Line.
    I firmly believe that they are going out of their way to negatively Impact cyclists .
    I agree that it’s time to follow the money trail!

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