Sunday, May 18, 2014

ACTION ALERT: Tell DelDOT to Save Our Shoulders

Rumble strip in a Sussex County bike lane. Photo by Mike Tyler
By Amy Wilburn -- Recent Rumble Strip applications have reduced valuable shoulder space along roads throughout Delaware. The presence of usable shoulders is often all that stands between allowing our citizens to bike for transportation and recreation and forcing them to either leave their bikes at home or rack the bikes up and drive to a trail for a short, recreational ride. It is entirely unacceptable for the nation’s fourth most bike friendly state to discourage active transportation and encourage added motor vehicle congestion on our roadways.

Inappropriately placed rumble strips have already been installed on several roads throughout the state, including Route 72, Route 24 and Route 9. The positioning of the rumble strips on these roads is in violation of DelDOT’s guidelines. It is also not in agreement with best practice, including federal guidelines. Furthermore, placement is not even consistent. The rumble strips are being cut anywhere from directly on the white line (Route 1 south of Dartmouth Road in Lewes) to several feet to the right of the white line. On Route 72, cyclists are forced to either ride in debris or in the travel lane. On Route 24, narrow sections of shoulder that were still viable for biking have now been almost or completely obliterated by the rumble strips, forcing cyclists into the travel lane. Just east of Banks Road the shoulder is completely occupied by the rumble strip in a high crash area. On Route 9 in Sussex County, rumble strips have been installed inside the bike lane. All three of these routes are important roads for bicyclists. 

In a promising development, Mark Luszcz is leading a DelDOT team that will review and update the current policy on rumble strips. In addition, Mark informs us that no additional rumble strips are planned at the current time. However, that something this egregious could happen in the first place does not bode well. We need to ensure that the damage is corrected immediately, that the policy is updated and that it considers cyclists’ needs, that policy is consistently applied and that oversight is provided to ensure quality control at the various stages of a project, and that DelDOT begins to consistently consider the needs of bicyclists in all projects except on limited access highways where bicycling is prohibited. We should not have to constantly do damage control or fight for every single facility. 

Above: Other states, including South Carolina (among the least bicycle-
friendly states) puts their rumble strips at the white line, a safer choice
for all road users.
Installing rumble strips in a bike lane is not some trivial mistake. It is instead a monumental error that demonstrates that our needs are not taken into account, barely on the radar. It is disappointing that DelDOT does not consistently consult the cycling community or even the state bicycle coordinator before making decisions that seriously impact bicyclists, and that might even result in a life or death situation. Some DelDOT employees are certainly stellar and should not be faulted, and some projects are certainly appropriate, even excellent. But we need to ensure that all DelDOT departments and employees take our health and well-being seriously. We are, after all, members of the travelling public.

So what can you do? Attend the Delaware Bicycle Council meeting on Wednesday June 4 at 5 PM in the DelDOT Administration Building in Dover (map/directions). Mark Luszcz will be at that meeting to discuss the rumble strips. If a dozen members of the cycling public attend this meeting, our voices may very well be heard. You can also contact DelDOT by other means to express your concerns. Report poorly positioned rumble strips (or any other problems) under “Report a Road Condition”, or contact Anthony Aglio (Anthony.Aglio@state.de.us) and Mark Luszcz (Mark.Luszcz@state.de.us) to express your concerns about the recent developments. Anthony and Mark are working to address this problem, but it can’t wait. Let them know that you support efforts to solve the problem now, before any more bike lanes and shoulders are made unbikeable. Insist that the bike lanes and shoulders that have already been ruined by the rumble strips are repaired. This is one of the most critical problems we face as cyclists. If we want our needs addressed, we need to speak up and not rely on others to represent us or on DelDOT to figure out what it is that we need and want. Please take action now.

Recent posts on this issue:
New rumble strips pose major safety threat for Delaware bicyclists
Bad timing for Rumble Strips on Route 72

1 comment:

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