Ride IllinoisRide Illinois
August 13, 2020

Advocating for Rumble Strips Improvements

Last month, Ride Illinois asked our members and supporters to complete our survey on rumble strips, the bike-unfriendly grooves sometimes added to paved shoulders to alert motorists drifting off the road. We want to thank everyone who provided input on two different roadway scenarios, thus supporting our efforts for a better policy for rumble strips. For those that have not taken it yet, and would like to provide input, you can take the survey here.

The survey, developed in partnership with the Adventure Cycling Association, was meant to reinforce our assertion that poorly-designed rumble strips without sufficient paved shoulder “clear zone” (paved shoulder space without rumble strips) reduce safety compared to a road with no paved shoulders. This would violate federal law, when Highway Safety Improvement Program dollars are used.

Our survey asked cyclists “Consider these two roads. In each case, you would have to bike in the travel lane. Road 1 has paved shoulders, but you would not be able to bike on them due to rumble strips taking most of the shoulder width. How would you rate the safety of biking in the travel lane on Road 1, compared to Road 2?” Our 189 initial respondents replied:

  • 2.7% – Road 1 would be much safer.
  • 15.3% – Road 1 would be somewhat safer.
  • 16.4% – No significant difference between the two roads.
  • 28% – Road 1 would be somewhat LESS safe.
  • 37.6% – Road 1 would be much LESS safe

The second question on the survey, verified that cyclists want to be able to ride on paved shoulders. If Road 1 were to be reconstructed with rumble strips having sufficient and (swept) clear zones, 91% of respondents (68% “definitely” and 23% “probably”) would prefer to bike in the clear zones instead of the travel lane.

Ride Illinois sent a letter to the Illinois Department of Transportation explaining the issue, noting that the current policy does not comply with federal law summarizing survey results, and requesting a specific policy change. The letter reads, in part:

We recognize the significant benefit shoulder or edgeline rumble strips have in reducing motorist run-off-the-road crashes. However, as is well-documented, bicyclists are unable to ride on rumble strips without severe vibrations and a great risk of falling. For that reason, “clear zones” – in this context meaning paved shoulder space without rumble strips, to the outside of them – are necessary for bicycle travel on shoulders when there are rumbles.

Click HERE to read the full letter.

We will keep you up to date on IDOT’s response and any progress made on this important topic related to cyclist safety.