Author Topic: Rumble Strip location  (Read 445 times)

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Offline icetrikerbobc

Rumble Strip location
« on: October 20, 2021, 09:12:46 pm »
Sorry if this has been specifically discussed before.

It makes no sense for rumble strips to be installed to the right (outside) of the white line that demarcates the outside edge of the travel lane--a visual warning of the limits of travel.  It seems to me that the rumble strips, which are an auditory warning of the limit of travel, should be at the same place.

If the white line and rumble strips were at the same location, there would be more adequate room for cyclists (especially trikers) to ride on the shoulder of a road.  I've seen (can't remember where off-hand) co-location of white line and rumble strip on very few roads.  I felt much safer on those roads!

Is there any reason why they cannot be co-located?  Or, is this just the way it has always been done?

Offline John Nettles

Re: Rumble Strip location
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2021, 12:24:31 am »
First, welcome to the ACA Forums!

You brought up a sore topic for cyclists!  Rarely do I appreciate them while on a bike.

I used to work for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) which is part of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  They are the ones who basically provide Congress and a lot of state governments the recommendations based on their mostly unbiased scientific studies.  Believe it or not, they do in-depth studies on hundreds and hundreds of transportation topics.  You name most any area of transportation, and it has probably been studied at one time or another. They are the ones who come up with the recommendation for curve radius of am exit lane at X speed, the slope of the road to assist drainage, plane tire specs, train crossing signs placement, the design of all the various bike lanes, ferry loading/off loading design, speed limits for a given road type, etc. 

Heck, I once helped plan a 3-day conference on the various types of roundabouts.  I thought how the hell can they speed 3 days on roundabouts.  In fact they probably need 5 or 6 days and it was very surprisingly a fascinating conference.  Now the 3-day conference on concrete (for various road types) was dull but again, they needed more time.  And since these are government conferences, they start a 8am and finish around 4:30pm.  It is not like a meeting at a resort by any means.  They are there to learn.

I know they have done repeated studies on rumble strips.  They studied the various designs, effects, etc.  Heck, I would not be surprised if they did a 3-day conference on it and I am very serious.  TRB tries to factor in all forms of user data when then do a study, i.e. the driver/pilot/etc., the passengers, the community, the users, costs, maintenance, etc. to come up with what is "best".  The problem is defining what is "best".  If the point of a rumble strip is to prevent vehicular accidents, the non-vehicular factors may not be as an important consideration. 

Anyway, once they determine what is "best" for that particular study (each study may have a different focus), other committees (say the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee or the "Tire Materials" Committee or the Concrete Materials Committee) may decide to review the data and give feedback from their perspective and then the topic may or may not be restudied.  I sat in on some of the Ped & Bike committee meetings occasionally to learn about it.  The rumble strip topic is usually a multiple session topic at the Annual Meeting.  But then there are something like 2,000 sessions or paper presentations for the 5-day Annual Meeting.

The problem is if accident data suggests the road may need rumble strips to reduce vehicular accidents but there is not the money to widen the road to incorporate a shoulder for cyclists.  Additionally, even though there are probably national guidelines for what rumble strips to use where and when, if a highway engineer does not do the research to find out about the various studies, the guidelines do no good.  "Hey Bubba, let's put a 12" strip right down the ol shoulder.  That sound good to you?" TRB and the NAS do not have enforcement or legal authority, again, they just make recommendations.

So say you have a state that has a highway with somewhat high traffic counts.  Say the road is a tad narrower than what is preferred and has little to no shoulder.  If the strip is put it inside the outside white line, then cars don't have as much room to maneuver and then may run over it much more frequently.  This may indeed cause accidents as the driver overreacts.  If the put it on the outside of the white line, then cyclists may very well have an accident.  If on top of the line (actually the line is on top of the strip), then the line painter has to be very careful when painting as as not to move off the strip.  Remember, a line is typically painted several times over the years before a road is repaved.

Then you factor in the rumble strip design and pavement material.  They both can definitely effect the level of noise the rumble strip makes.  This goes back to the design and its intended purpose.  Is it to give a definite notice before they go off the road entirely or more of a warning before they fade off onto the full-width shoulder?  Is the rumble strip deep or shallow?  Are the groves 1" across (front to back) or 2".  If the engineer who came up with the highway paving specs didn't do their research, a poorly designed rumble strip may have been given in the specs to the road contractor. Part of it also may be the rumble strip installer.  They, the road contractor, or the government entity may not care as much or be as particular.

But overall, my guess is that usually a poorly designed strip is primarily due to lack of design research then lack of funding (in case a shoulder needs to be added).

For instance, I hate it when they have a 3' wide shoulder and then put a 12" wide and somewhat deep rumble strip in the middle of the shoulder.  Trikes are totally screwed but even 2-wheeled bikes don't have much room to maneuver.  Granted, I have been on several wide, shallow rumble strips that were more of an annoyance than a pain but those are far between.  Or why can't they put a 4" wide strip directly on the painted line and let us have that 12" of shoulder (usually because the usable road is not wide enough)?

My solution?  I would love to get the engineers to actually ride a bike on the road with the proposed style of rumble strip design to show them what that specific rumble strip design and placement entails for that highway. 

How do we change this lack of decent design?  Honestly, I do not know other than possibly getting active with your local and state transportation department.  The various studies ARE out there to the various transportation professionals if they bother to do the research AND try to think that cyclists may use the road.

I know this may not answer your question but I hope it gave you a little background.

Tailwinds, John

Offline icetrikerbobc

Re: Rumble Strip location
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2021, 08:46:26 am »
John,

Thanks for your extensive explanation of and background information on the rumble strip issue.

It is evident that, while design specs have been extensively studied and recommended, implementation thereof have not necessarily been followed for various reasons—the world is not perfect.

All the more reason for supporting off-road routes, such as rails-to-trails.  I do.  Unfortunately, rail-trails are absent in many areas of the country. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Rumble Strip location
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2021, 09:24:20 am »
John,

Thanks for your extensive explanation of and background information on the rumble strip issue.

It is evident that, while design specs have been extensively studied and recommended, implementation thereof have not necessarily been followed for various reasons—the world is not perfect.

All the more reason for supporting off-road routes, such as rails-to-trails.  I do.  Unfortunately, rail-trails are absent in many areas of the country.

Meh, I still prefer to tour on the road despite the fact that some roads are poorly designed.  Not a fan of bikes being segregated to rail trails and such.

I have seen some poor rumble strip designs that were downright ridiculous though.  Also I fear the in some case rumble strips are used as a crutch by tired drivers to keep driving when they otherwise might have gotten off the road.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Rumble Strip location
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2021, 09:45:32 am »
I have seen some poor rumble strip designs that were downright ridiculous though.  Also I fear the in some case rumble strips are used as a crutch by tired drivers to keep driving when they otherwise might have gotten off the road.
Totally agree with the caveat that some "designs" are actually just Bubba the Road Paver deciding what is "good" with no input from the highway engineers, if there were any.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Rumble Strip location
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2021, 09:46:09 am »
IIRC, ACA was/is active on the matter of rumble strip placement.

Here is a great example I encountered while riding U.S. 287 north of Ennis, MT.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5902471,-111.7088339,3a,90y,6.57h,43.77t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1suvVmtNHCw512e05bipzMLw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

As you can see, what little shoulder there is has been rendered useless for cycling.  Fortunately, traffic was very light the day I rode it, which was before heavy tourist season.  But I suspect that's not always the case because it is the direct route from Ennis to Three Forks.



Offline staehpj1

Re: Rumble Strip location
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2021, 04:48:20 pm »
IIRC, ACA was/is active on the matter of rumble strip placement.

Here is a great example I encountered while riding U.S. 287 north of Ennis, MT.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5902471,-111.7088339,3a,90y,6.57h,43.77t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1suvVmtNHCw512e05bipzMLw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

As you can see, what little shoulder there is has been rendered useless for cycling.  Fortunately, traffic was very light the day I rode it, which was before heavy tourist season.  But I suspect that's not always the case because it is the direct route from Ennis to Three Forks.
Saw a good bot of that terrible design in Montanna.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Rumble Strip location
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2021, 04:44:14 am »
I have figured it out. People who design roads with rumble strips are covert bicycle haters, most of them anyway. The few favorably disposed toward cycling designed highway 190 going west out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The side lanes are quadruple wide. Patches of Rumble strips, each patch so many feet apart all the way, span the lane from the roadway to the shoulder. Going over them on a loaded touring bicycle is as smooth as silk. Very different from the deep, gouged-out holes on the shoulders of roadways in Georgia. Those would alert you when veering off the road in a car, and knock your front wheels out of alignment. Another thing they do is force the cyclist to the wrong side of the white line. The roads and highways of America were made for cars. At best, bicycles are an after thought. It is not China. There, the bicycle is the main transportation for more then 300 million people.