NYBC - New York Bicycling Coalition - Rumble Over Rumble Strips and Crumble Shoulders

NYBC: Working Toward a More Bicycle-Friendly New York

The New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) monitors government activities concerning bicycling and pedestrian issues. The Coalition advocates on behalf of the communities to the NY legislature and state agencies for better bicycling and walking conditions. We provide technical assistance to clubs, non-profit organizations, and local governments working to foster a "Complete Streets" concept of transportation development. This is article is one example of the NYBC's response to the many challenging local transportation situations around the State.

Rumble Over Rumble Strips and Crumble Shoulders

By Jennifer Clunie, NYBC Acting Executive Director

New York State probably does not receive enough credit for being a bicycling friendly cycling destination. Granted, urban areas often do not receive the investment in bicycle infrastructure they deserve, but since the mid-1960s the NYS Department of Transportation's (NYS DOT) policy has been to build State maintained roads with a smooth paved and striped from the motor vehicle lane shoulder.

The NYS DOT's policy is to maintain this network of State roads with an adequate minimum shoulder width (>4 ft.) In the 1990's, the DOT reconstructed many State maintained roads with wider paved shoulders. These wide smooth paved shoulders are one reason out of state bicycle tourists consistently positively comment on cycling in New York State. The amount of available shoulder space afforded to them surprises and delights both long distance and day trip cyclotourists.

Rumble Strip Problem

Since late spring 2008, the existence of this wonderful roadway shoulder network is under threat according to emails sent to the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC.) Early in summer, 2008, Dave Wilson, president of the Westchester Cycle Club, alerted the Coalition that the NYS DOT repaved a section of Route 100 in Westchester County with a length of "rumble" strips. These rumble strips jeopardize the safety of all bicyclists and deter bicycle tourists from using Route 100. A full description of the Route 100 issue, including articles in the local press, is on WilsonÂ’s blog: http://cycling.lohudblogs.com/author/dwilson/

Although bicyclists have the legal right to ride in the roadway lane, rumble strips arbitrarily force bicyclists to ride in the motor vehicle lane on busy roadways like Route 100.

Crumble Shoulder Problem
In various regions of the State, the NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is testing experimental crumble shoulders of a coarse and loose material in an attempt to reduce the costs of creating smooth paved shoulders on State maintained roads. It remains to be analyzed how well the new shoulder material will hold up and reduce the costs of paving roadways. The New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) already has received comments from concerned bicyclists and pedestrians indicating that the "crumble shoulder material is potentially dangerous for bicyclists, pedestrians, and even motorists. The rough material frequently becomes loose and thrusts upwards if an motor vehicle veers onto the shoulder. Like the existence of rumble strips, the rough texture of "crumble shoulders" force bicyclists to alternate cycling on the motor vehicle lane with the shoulder.

New York Bicycling Coalition's Response
The NYBC is dedicated to preserving New York State's wide and smoothly paved shoulder network. It is an important asset for use by the State's residents (bicyclists and pedestrians) as well as visiting cyclists. Soon after learning of the rumble strip and crumble shoulder controversies, we discussed the Route 100 matter in a recent meeting with NYS DOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn. In addition, we pursued amicable communication with Region 8 (Hudson Valley) DOT officials.

The NYBC has reservations and concerns about the adoption of these roadway 'improvements,' especially in regards to compromising bicyclists' safety and the quality of riding surfaces on thousands of miles otherwise scenic roadways. The NYBC will continue to correspond and meet with the NYS DOT on these matters.

Take Action, Every Bicyclist Can Be Involved
If you simply are "apprehensive" or are more concerned about the existence of "rumble strips" and "crumble shoulders" then express your apprehension and concern in a written (email or paper) communication to your club's government relations or advocacy chair; to the NYBC http://www.nybc.net ; and contact the local NYS DOT regional office about your concerns.

Do not hesitate to contact the New York Bicycling Coalition regarding important local bicycle and pedestrian related issues in your community. Now, at the beginning of 2009, we hope you will take the time to either become a member of NYBC, or renew your membership. You can affirm your commitment for better bicycling conditions in New York State
http://www.nybc.net/donate and joining us.