The Department of Transportation is trying to help drivers avoid head-on crashes by installing centerline rumble strips on roads with speeds of 45 miles per hour or greater. If you've ever driven over the rumble strips on the side of the Thruway, you know how jarring they can be. As our Katie Gibas reports, that's what has many cyclists concerned.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Benjamin Rabin has been a cyclist ever since he can remember. When he's not on a spin bike, he's outside on the open road. But that doesn't come without risks.
"A bicycle can go down pretty easily. The tires are very small. The braking capabilities are nothing like a car. There's not four wheels. There's two. That means if you're not going the right way, you can tip over and crash. There are a lot of things on the roadway that can make a bicyclist go down. There's debris, stones and sticks," said Rabin.
Now cyclists say they're even more concerned for their safety.
"Rumble strips are designed to wake people up, so they're a shock. They're jolting. And we don't want somebody who's trying to focus on the safety of the bicyclist that they're passing to all-of-a-sudden be confronted with that. If the drivers do know about those, they still may try to stay within the boundaries of those rumble strips instead of giving wide berth to the bicyclists. And I think both of those things are dangerous," said Rabin.
The Department of Transportation is installing centerline rumble strips to alert drivers that they're crossing over the center line. The goal is to keep drivers alert and reduce head on crashes.
"If they start crossing or drifting over that centerline, they know they have to make a correction and get back into the lane. We're hoping that it will reduce cross-over accidents by 30 to 35 percent. It's made to save lives. The bicyclists and the pedestrians were taken into account in this whole thing," said Gene Cilento, the Syracuse area NYS DOT Public Information Officer.
In the coming weeks and months, these rumble strips will be popping up everywhere. They're already here on parts of Route 290 in Manlius Center, Route 31 in Clay and Route 11 heading up towards Brewerton just to name a few. Cyclists and DOT officials want drivers to be aware that they're here. So when they drive over one, they don't get surprised and over-compensate and end up on the shoulder.
At this point, the DOT is still considering whether or not to install rumble strips on the shoulders.
Meanwhile, cyclists say they're starting a writing campaign telling DOT officials and local municipalities that they feel these rumble strips are dangerous to both bicyclists and pedestrians.
And if you'd like more information on the DOT rumble strip program, check out the link below.