UPDATE: October, 2010 LMB met with MDOT officials to discuss our concerns over the increased use of rumble strips across Michigan. We are very pleased with MDOT's response and their willingness to work with us. Several exciting ideas were discussed that would not only limit the adverse affects of rumble strips on bicyclists, but also help promote overall bicycle safety.
Please take a moment to THANK MDOT for agreeing to work with LMB and cyclists across Michigan on this issue. Please direct thank you emails to:
MDOT Chief Operations Director,
Add your club/shop/organization to the list of supporters at the bottom of this page:
Help us identify roads where shoulder or centerline rumble strips are a problem and popular bicycling routes that need to be protected from future rumble strips:
Improperly installed rumble strips on M-13 (later removed upon urging of LMB)
The League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB) along with the League of American Bicyclists, Alliance for Biking and Walking, Adventure Cycling Association and numerous others* urge the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to change their policy on the use of shoulder and center line rumble strips across Michigan.
Cyclists and motorists share a desire for safer roadways. We welcome wide, smoothly paved shoulders that benefit both motorists and cyclists. Though all roadway users benefit from the safety and convenience of improved shoulders, MDOT’s increased use of rumble strips – raised or grooved patterns in a road's shoulder and/or centerline designed to alert drivers with noise and vibrations that they are drifting off the roadway or across traffic – is creating undue hazard to cyclists and other nonmotorized users.
We commend MDOT’s rumble strip policy for having basic accommodations for bicyclists such as a six-foot or greater shoulder requirement and a provision for intermittent gaps so cyclists can get in and out of the travel lane. Unfortunately, on multiple occasions MDOT has ignored this policy to the detriment of bicyclists, and other nonmotorized users such as the Amish and those requiring personal mobility aids, including wheelchair users, hand cyclists and cyclists who ride three and four wheel bicycles.
Violations include M-13 and M-52, where rumble strips were installed on popular bicycle routes. These roads did not meet the minimum shoulder width requirement and the installation of rumble strips consequently made the shoulders hazardous for cyclists. Similarly, safe accommodations for horse and buggy users on M-66 and M-86 were not considered before installation of rumble strips in St. Joseph County’s Amish country. We are pleased that MDOT committed to repaving all of these shoulders after hearing concerns from nonmotorized users. The state, however, could have avoided wasting limited transportation dollars by simply following its own policy and fully considering the needs of all roadway users in the original project designs.
The unintended consequences of centerline rumble strips are also now being reported as many drivers are “squeezing” bicyclists by passing at unsafe distances in attempt to avoid driving over centerline rumble strips. This is particularly a problem on heavily traveled roads with narrow shoulders where cyclists have no other option but to ride within the actual travel lane.
While MDOT’s rumble strip policy does have basic accommodations for bicyclists, LMB encourages MDOT to adopt an even more bicycle-tolerable rumble strip policy by:
- Stopping the practice of indiscriminately installing shoulder and centerline rumble strips on roads without A) a run-off-the-road crash history; B) adequate shoulder space; and C) on roadways frequented by cyclists, and other nonmotorized users.
- Use the absolute minimum rumble strip width and depth and fully consider alternatives such as narrow rumble stripes (textured paint directly on the center and fog lines) that still alert drivers while minimizing road hazards for bicyclists.
- Carefully educate and closely monitor MDOT staff and other contractors hired to install rumble strips to insure that the impact on bicyclists and other nonmotorized users is minimized.
- Eliminate or incorporate larger gaps between rumble strips on steep hills where they create danger for fast-moving cyclists who may need to quickly merge into the travel lane to avoid debris or other hazards.
- Research the deteriorating effects that rumble strips may have on road surfaces caused by the freezing and thawing of water collected within rumble strip grooves, especially on centerline rumble strips which are often placed over an already vulnerable paving seam.
- Help educate local road agencies about bicyclists' concerns over rumble strips and help promote best practices that factor in the safety of nonmotorized users.
- Incorporate bicycle tolerable rumble strip language within MDOT’s Complete Streets policy as is now mandated under Public Acts 134 and 135 of 2010, which was endorsed by MDOT, to “plan, design, and construct [state roads] to provide appropriate access to all legal users in a manner that promotes safe and efficient movement of people and goods whether by car, truck, transit, assistive device, foot, or bicycle” and “Considers the varying mobility needs of all legal users of the roadway, of all ages and abilities.”
*Additional Supportive Organizations
(click here to add your club, shop or organization)