Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

City considers rumble strips on Marine Drive

Posted by on June 26th, 2012 at 9:14 am

Ready to rumble?
(Photo: Missouri DOT)

As part of their ongoing High Crash Corridors program, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is considering installing rumble strips on NE Marine Drive.

PBOT bicycle projects staffer Jeff Smith is currently looking for feedback on the plan. Since Marine Drive is a very popular route for weekend riders and racers training for competition, Smith has emailed the idea to local riding groups like the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club and the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association.

PBOT is focusing on Marine Drive (between I-5 and NE 185th) for a safety analysis and improvements because it has a “substantially higher” fatality rate that the citywide norm (17 out of 1000 crashes is fatal, compared to 3 out of 1000 citywide). Adding to the safety issues on the street are high speeds and a lot of truck traffic. According to PBOT data, between NE 33rd and 185th, an average of 82% of all motor vehicles exceed the speed limit (with about 11% exceeding the posted speed by 10 MPH or more).

PBOT statistics show that between 2001 and 2010, there were 398 total reported collisions on Marine Drive and 12 of those involved a fatality. Seven of the collisions involved a person on a bicycle. Below is a chart from PBOT:

One of PBOT’s main concerns is the prevalence of “lane departure” crashes, which is a traffic safety term for when a car leaves the roadway and hits something (like a traffic pole or another vehicle). On NE Marine, those type of crashes are three times higher than the citywide average.

(Source: FHWA)

To combat these departures, PBOT is considering adding rumble strips, which are a series of depressions/bumps made into the pavement on the shoulder to provide people with an audible and tactile warning that they’re about to drive off the road. This issue impacts bicycling because rumble strips can cause major headaches if installed without bicycle riders in mind.

Here’s a snip from an email PBOT’s Jeff Smith sent to OBRA:

“Obviously, there are some very real potential safety benefits for cyclists from using rumble strips — but they also create some very real concerns.”

PBOT is a very bike-sensitive agency, so if they install rumble strips, I’m sure they’ll do it in a way that has the least amount of negative impacts. The fact that they’re reaching out to bike groups at this early stage bodes very well.

According to Smith, PBOT would adhere to Federal Highway Administration guidelines, which call for four feet of width between the rumble strips and the edge of the roadway and 12-foot gaps every 40 to 60 feet.

Smith says the rumble strips on Marine Dr. would “conform closely to the League of American Bicyclists’ recommendations” as laid out in this League blog post.

If you have feedback about the use of rumble strips on Marine Drive, PBOT would love to hear it. Please consider leaving a comment below and/or emailing Jeff Smith at directly jeff.smith [at] portlandoregon.gov.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

63
Leave a Reply

avatar
26 Comment threads
37 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
38 Comment authors
A.K.SoskarbaanksEl BicicleroPete Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
peejay
Guest
peejay

So, the effective usable width of the bike lane is now four feet?

Dave Anderson
Guest
Dave Anderson

As a frequent rider of Marine Drive east of 205, I would say this could only work if the city regularly sweeps the shoulders to keep them clean. The shoulders seem fairly wide, but they’re often filled with gravel, metal debris, glass and roadkill. If I have to move around to avoid that, I don’t want one of the consequences to be hitting a rumble strip.

Jonathan Gordon
Guest
Jonathan Gordon

I ride on Marine Drive occasionally as there’s some great cycling routes out by Troutdale. If they are going to move forward with this, I hope they consider the following:

1. I’d prefer edge line rumble strips over shoulder rumble strips, as they appear to leave more of the shoulder free for cycling.

2. It’d be great if they included extra funds in their budget for increased shoulder sweeping. These sorts of facilities make it harder for people on bikes to leave the shoulder if there is debris.

Thanks PBOT.

Pat
Guest
Pat

Perhaps I am a wimp of a cyclist – but I have driven on Marine Drive many times, biked it several times, and witnessed first hand some scary moments, so when I moved to a location that would have enabled me to use it for a daily commute by bike, I opted to use Sandy blvd instead – the cars are slower and the wind was usually nil. I highly recommend it as the alternative. I know, too, that there is a plan to improve bike travel on NE Sandy (repaving and ‘real’ bike lanes). I think something does need to be done to make Marine drive a safer route for all. It is the more scenic option and part of the 40 mile loop – it is the first choice for the recreational cyclist – who may not be aware of the safety issues.

DK
Guest
DK

I like the idea, provided it’s done with a thoughtful eye toward the shared-use nature of the road in question (please don’t make the rumble strips in the area of the shoulder, consequently shrinking its usable area for cyclists).

I agree with comments above that the city could do wonders to improve cycling by sweeping the shoulders on Marine Drive far more frequently than their current schedule. This goes for many of the “bike routes” in N. Portland’s Industrial areas.

S
Guest
S

I assume that the “fatalities” mentioned here are vehicle-on-bike collisions? For some reason, it seems vague as worded in this article…though since we are talking about shoulder breaches (and the need for rumble strips), I assume we are. It would certainly gel with my first (and last) biking foray onto Marine Drive.

Regardless of the specific safety issues discussed here, I’m surprised that Marine Drive is considered at present to be a viable bikeway of any kind whatsoever. From what this article says, its “bike lane” is actually just a shoulder…even though the Bike There! map represents it as the former. That makes sense to me…the one time I got stuck on that road (having followed the map’s recommendations, which are usually accurate), the “lane” was choked with blackberry brambles and other obstructions, but it was nearly impossible to get out in the road for fear of being plowed down by a semi going at top speed (if not beyond).

It was one of those unexpected biking experiences, where you find yourself suddenly in great danger, with few options for extricating yourself from the scenario as your life flashes before your eyes. These events happen often enough when a cyclist takes the wrong turn and ends up somewhere dangerous–it’s egregious that this should happen to someone following a map of “safe” biking routes.

Or am I missing something here? Is there a way of riding Marine Drive without getting killed that I wasn’t able to figure out? (Of course I am not discussing the MD Path that goes along the river…although getting on it from Rockwood is also quite an odyssey…but that’s a different post/rant!)

Mike
Guest
Mike

I use Marine drive all the time for training rides. Great views. Between the bike path segments and the “bike shoulder” segments, all is good, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable, despite the higher vehicle speeds.

However, as others have pointed out above, this awesomeness is all based on my ability to artfully dodge the road debris littering the shoulder segments. I can see many more ways in which the installation of rumble strips will dramatically decrease safety for cyclists, even as it increases safety for motorists.

J-R
Guest
J-R

It sounds like a good place for enhanced enforcement. Citations for speeding, reckless driving, DUII would help.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

“I assume that the “fatalities” mentioned here are vehicle-on-bike collisions?” – S

Yes. In my 15 years in Portland I seem to recall more than one or two cyclist deaths on Marine Drive.

“the “lane” was choked with blackberry brambles and other obstructions, but it was nearly impossible to get out in the road for fear of being plowed down by a semi going at top speed (if not beyond).”

Admittedly I haven’t been on Marine Drive in a couple years, but I’ve ridden it a number of times in the past and don’t recall the problems you describe. Maybe it’s just one section that is that way? What I recall is a wide “shoulder” (which may or may not be marked as a bike lane) that offers plenty of room for cyclists … if only motorists would stay off it.

For the record, I am ALL FOR rumble strips separating the shoulder from the general traffic lane. Really, what bike/rider combination can’t handle crossing a rumble strip when entering or leaving the bike lane? This would be a big win, although I would like to see the city make sure to sweep it a couple times a year.

Jack
Guest
Jack

“an average of 82% of all motor vehicles exceed the speed limit”

Sounds like a great location for the city to rack up revenue via traffic citations.

Spiffy
Guest

they could install speed bumps… they’ll slow people down and also keep them awake enough to not swerve onto the shoulder… two birds and whatnot…

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

LAB’s first Best Practices item says, “Not installing rumble strips on designated bicycle routes and other roads where bicycling is expected.” Isn’t Marine Drive a designated bike route? Will the rumble strips only be on segments which don’t have an adjacent MUP?

Also, 12 foot gaps every 60 feet seems very sparse. Seems like the other way around, maybe 10 feet of rumble strip and 30 feet of smooth surface, would still give errant drivers the buzz they need while leaving much better access to bikes passing or avoiding hazards on the shoulder.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Most of the shoulder on Marine Drive is about 4 feet wide, but there are places where it narrows to less than 2 feet due to private property and other obstructions, particularly in the westbound direction.

fredlf
Guest

“an average of 82% of all motor vehicles exceed the speed limit”

When is the automotive community going to take responsibility and stop being scofflaws? They should get no more funding until they clean up their act.

Bikesalot
Guest
Bikesalot

“Really, what bike/rider combination can’t handle crossing a rumble strip when entering or leaving the bike lane?”

On last year’s trans-America velomobile tour from Portland, one of the velos had a nasty rollover crash on the Interstate, not all that far to the east. Seems there is a spot where the shoulder vanishes at a narrow bridge at the bottom of a decent descent (sound familiar?). Velos move FAST, especially downhill.

Unfortunately there was a deeply cut rumble strip with no exit space provided. Unfortunately rumble strips are not as common in Europe, home of most of the riders on that tour. Also unfortunately, the trikes on which most velos are based easily loose directional control when the rear wheel looses contact with the pavement, as when bouncing along a severe rumble strip. Add this all together and the unfamiliar hazard nearly ruined one expensive machine and its rider.

dachines
Guest
dachines

No rumble strips. They are horrible. While the idea that they somehow might help protect cyclists from errant motor vehicle drivers is quaint, it is also wishful thinking. I know of no positives that rumble strips offer to cyclists.

On the other hand an 82% non-compliance with the speed limit is just SCREAMING for enforcement. So, if they want to add rumble strips, add them to the entire length and width of the primary vehicle lanes. 😉

Seriously though, 82% non-compliance indicates a need to heavily enforce the speed limit and to implement measures to slow the traffic. Perhaps some of the most dangerous spots on Marine drive for all users are where roads like 122nd T into Marine Drive. If we want to slow traffic and make Marine Drive safer then add signals at those T intersections. There are enough of those T intersections on Marine drive that signalizing them would definitely slow down traffic, and reduce the number of accidents that those intersections currently cause.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Of the 398 reported collisions, how many had a primary cause of “lane departure”? How many of the 12 fatalities involved the death of a bicycle rider AND were due strictly to “lane departure” (recognizing that if a cyclist is in a bike lane or shoulder, ALL collisions with them involve a lane departure). It seems this is yet another example of the degradation of a bike route in the name of safety. The assumption being that cyclists would far and away prefer to have a substandard–even dangerous–surface or operating area if it is perceived as “safer”.

Why don’t we put rumble strips on the left side of the fog line so drivers have an even earlier warning that they are about to depart from their lane? Wouldn’t that be more helpful? Wouldn’t it cause drivers to be more careful, perhaps slow down? Aren’t there ever lane departures to the left? Shouldn’t we line both inside edges of the lane with rumble strips? It is interesting that a problem caused by errant drivers is “solved” by degrading the part of the roadway only non-drivers should ever use. If drivers are causing a problem, any solution that creates new inconvenience and a requirement for added vigilance should create that increased burden for drivers.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

A rumble strip won’t prevent unsafe driving habits, such as speeding, which are the real cause of the accident rate. I thought rumble strips were originally for those falling asleep at the wheel in danger of driving off a highway, which has a much wider shoulder than marine drive. I would imagine the only position that would serve any purpose would be just right of the solid white, making the shoulder essentially unrideable. If it’s placed at the far edge of the road, by the time it’s crossed, whatever accident it should’ve prevented will already have happened. It’s necessary to be able to cross between the shoulder and lane while riding for any number of reasons, and a rumble strip would simply prevent that.

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

It it gets a rumble strip treatment, I’ll have to take the lane. If a car driver can’t keep their car between two painted lines, maybe they should also have the right to end-o. Wear yer helmets!

Doug Smart
Guest
Doug Smart

While this would make motorcyclists squawk, why not cut rumble strips about a foot wide down the center of the motor vehicle lanes? If you’re tracking well, no problem. You drift across the lane, you get rumbled. No impact on the shoulder and bicycles. Put gaps in the strips at/near intersections where bikes might cross. Done properly, this might even facilitate surface drainage.

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

Rear car to bike collisions are a single percentage rarity(about 3%). I ride a 6 mile stretch of 99w(limit 55 mph, most drive way over that) with rumble stripes and w – i – d – e shoulders, and the rumble stripes give an extra peace of mind from distracted drivers who can’t hold their lane. Like the buffered bike lanes recently installed on Tualatin-Sherwood road, this is another development that keeps drivers away from bicycle space. I feel safer, if only in my head.

Trent
Guest
Trent

I like the idea of the rumble strips. It might make you think twice before riding side by side. It’s never enjoyable having a semi come head on into the my lane who’s trying not to hit a pack of cyclists. Is it to much to ask of the cycling community to ride single file on marine drive?

jonathan
Guest
jonathan

i think its a good idea to have it to keep drivers up i ride a bike and i stay away from the streets and i drove over the ones near saltys and i was like wow that scared me driving on it to test it , but yes the other reason is bikes on it i know its a great road to be on and have races,the best way to not have many bikes getting hit if they ride on the bath path thats away from the cars so using that 40 mile loop, yes some roads will not have it but they should add that metal guard rail along the road to keep cars safe from hitting bike’s on that path and ending up in the river,i know bikes like to ride where the cars are but i think they use the other path, one guy on a bike moved in the street and had to move.

The Oblio
Guest
The Oblio

An Outdated, TWO laned, No Berm, Set on a Dike, roadway, that allows Heavy Trucking, Cars ..AND.. Bike traffic. A roadway that sees children on training wheels, Baby tows, and all manner of unskilled riders ..ALL oblivious of the dangers. And we’re talking about making this “Safer” with Rumble Strips ? Oh My !

Albert
Guest
Albert

I was knocked over (and knocked unconscious with a cracked helmet) by another cyclist on last year’s STP ride due partly to a rumble strip. This was on the busy highway south of the Day 1 lunch stop. He apparently was passing cyclists in the car lane then abruptly jumped back into the shoulder through the gap in the rumble strip, hitting the side of my rear wheel.

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

I don’t think the rumble strips will help with safety of cyclists at all.

Rather than being taken out from behind by surprise, you’ll simply hear the loud distinctive BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR of wheels over the strip a split second before you’re hit.