Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bad timing for Rumble Strips on Route 72

Clearly, this could have waited
 
It's not often that we see Rumble Strips cut in a road that's in imminent need of rehabilitation, but that's exactly what just happened along Route 72/Sunset Lake Road in Bear. Even though DelDOT uses a more bicycle-friendly Rumble Strip allowing cyclists to exit and enter through breaks, bike safety has been compromised in several areas because the shoulder is in very poor condition. It is also thick with debris from potholes and crumbling blacktop, and several stretches require a mountain bike - or entering the lane of high speed traffic to circumvent. A "Report a Road Condition" on-line request was submitted a few months ago for one bad section near Reybold Road, but so far there has been no repair activities.

Route 72 between Old Baltimore Pike and Route 40 was last resurfaced in 2004, ten years ago. It was milled (the process by which the old existing road surface is removed by machine to expose the road base) to a depth that exposed the dirt under the shoulders. Once paved, the new surface started out smooth, but began deteriorating within a few years given the soft ballast.

The freshly cut Rumble Strip is plainly seen in the picture above. Deterioration is especially bad along the seam between the traffic lane and shoulder, narrowing available space and creating a safety hazard.

A view showing the brand new Rumble Strip following directly into a large area of potholes.

The view facing south on Route 72/Sunset Lake Road. This stretch, just south of Reybold Road, is quite challenging - especially for those on road bikes.

Though it is seldom cited, distracted and inattentive driving are largely what's behind lane departure crashes.

Unfortunately, Rumble Strips are little more than "lane police", or a way of keeping drivers in their lane, because cell phone laws are toothless and go unenforced. Engaging in a phone conversation - or worse, texting - has been proven at least as dangerous as DUI. Sadly, this is largely ignored because the vast majority of drivers - including the police themselves - engage in this deadly activity. The result? Vulnerable road users end up paying the ultimate penalty - with their lives.

Related: Are more cyclists getting hit from behind than ever before?

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that shoulder looks like it's in pretty rough shape. Any plans to repave that section of road anytime in the near future?

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