New rumble strips on SR 18 worry cyclists

ST. GEORGE – Rumble strips recently added to state Route 18 have left cyclists concerned.

Rumble strips are impressions placed along the shoulder or center lane of the road that make a vehicle vibrate when driven over, and can be a wake-up for unassuming drivers. According to the Utah Department of Transportation’s website, the rumble strips are designed to “prevent crashes by alerting inattentive or drowsy drivers as they begin to drift off of the road.”

While the strips are designed for automotive safety, some Southern Utah cycling advocates say they aren’t necessarily friendly to road cyclists.

“(Rumble strips) can be very dangerous,” said Cimarron Chacon, president of the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association. She is also working with the recently formed Washington County Bicycle Advisory Council in approaching UDOT with concerns arising from SR-18’s repaving.

“The recent resurfacing project has added two new problems,” said Craig Shanklin, president of WCBAC, in an email to St. George News.

Shanklin said a two-mile segment of SR-18 – between the upper entrance to Snow Canyon State Park, north to Diamond Valley – already had narrow shoulders. In some places he said the shoulder is less than 12 inches.

Rumble strips were added to the already narrow shoulder, which may force cyclists into traffic lanes. Strips were also added to the middle of the road, “making it difficult for motorists to easily slide over to give cyclists a bit more room as is the custom in bike-friendly Southern Utah,” Shanklin said.

Shanklin added that another problem caused by the repaving is the creation of what is called a “false shoulder.”

“A second problem was created by the generous overspray of the top coat, creating a ‘false shoulder,’” he said. “The thick tar was sprayed about a foot beyond the actual shoulder, creating the illusion of a wider shoulder than actually exists. If a cyclist hits the outer foot of the ‘shoulder’ they will break through this crust and find themselves in loose gravel not an asphalt shoulder.”

Chacon said the rumbles strips and false shoulder could cause potential injury to cyclists traveling southbound on SR-18. A rider could be traveling at speeds in excess of 30-40 mph when they hit either obstacle.

Chacon and Shanklin said they had met with UDOT representatives who have been very receptive to their concerns.

“It’s incredible how quickly and seriously UDOT is handling this,” Chacon said.

Dana Meier, a UDOT program engineer for Southern Utah, has been involved in the meetings and requested the WCBAC conduct a survey focusing on the perceived impact of the rumble strips and false shoulders along SR-18. For its part, Meier said UDOT sent had field engineer to the road to inspect potential problem areas.

Meier said the field engineer reported the rumble strips were “installed per specification” and their placement hadn’t gone against UDOT protocol.

As for the overspray that created the false shoulder, Meier said he agreed with the bicyclists. “It looks like there could be asphalt there,” he said.

However, Kevin Kitchen, a spokesman for UDOT, said the overspray would discolor under the sun over time and no longer present the illusion of a shoulder. “The problem tends to solve itself,” he said.

As for whether or not there would be any changes made to SR-18, Meier said it was unlikely unless it was proven the rumble strips and false shoulder presented a “significant danger.”

“UDOT has a zero-fatality goal,” Kitchen said. “Rumble strips are a big help in that goal.”

Chacon said that even if the rumble strips were filled in, they would still pose a possible threat to cyclists. Suggestions on improving cyclists’ safety along SR-18 have included warning signs, widening the shoulder, and a dedicated bike lane.

Meier said UDOT may be willing to partner with cycling advocacy groups in order to reach a common solution. However, anything proposed would have to meet requirements set forth by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which UDOT adheres to.

Aside from the original impact survey being done by WCBAC, Chacon said another study was being done concerning the possible economic impacts to tourism and particular sporting events that utilize SR-18.

The highway is a part of what cyclists call the Gunlock Loop, or Veyo Loop, a 40-mile route course Shanklin said was possibly one of the best known cycling courses in the state. He also said it added to Southern Utah’s reputation as “a Mecca for cyclists.”

“This route is also used by the Huntsman World Senior Games, the Ironman competition and many other races and large cycling events such as the Tour de St. George,” Shanklin said. “We have been told these changes may also present a problem for runners in the St. George Marathon.”

It remains to be seen how the repaving of SR-18 may impact future sporting events and athletic-based tourism in the area.


Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MoriKessler
Copyright 2012 St. George News

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  • Mike H June 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I support cyclists, I’m all for people doing things for health, exercise, passion, whatever, but in memory I could probably count the number of times I actually saw a cyclist on the right hand side of the white line on one hand. I’ve always had to enter the oncoming lane to give them space and coming south from Snow Canyon turn off they completely ignore the “bike path” that is available. I think motorists and cyclists could get along a lot better if there were concessions on both sides. As a motorcyclist I know how inattentive motorists can be, but that is compounded by what can sometimes seem to be arrogance on the part of cyclists especially when they ride abreast. I don’t always see this by any means but it’s more frequent than rare..

    • Kelli June 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

      Well said, Mike. This community has spent untold amounts of money on these wonderful bike paths, and when I see one going unused while I have 2 bikers in front of me riding abreast on the road, it just makes me nuts. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, and try to give them the right of way without causing a head-on collision with another car, so when the cyclists get defiant and block my lane even more, it’s so aggravating.

  • Wes June 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Wow! Boohoo…. Those poor poor cyclist. Give me a break. Is this really an issue? Or someone’s idea of a joke? The plain ignorance of most spandex wearing toffu eating bike riders is ridiculos! High way 18 is made, like most high ways, for fossil fuel guzzling, ozone destroying automobiles…PERIOD!!! they never have been or ever will be designed for a select special interest group of bike riders. If you take your life in your own hands and want to ride on the high way go for it. Don’t bitch and moan that you don’t have enough room on the shoulder or the rumble strips are to intrusive to your pleasant bike ride! It’s for CARS AND TRUCKS! If you don’t like it don’t ride on it!

    • TRUCKMAN June 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      TOTAL AGREE!!!! MY Ferd F-teenthousand that I use fer work with chest-Hair upholstery and a beard in the glove box just in case I lose mine dont need no little spandix riding fos in my way I am to busy pulling my tailer to the new lot. The Ferd F-teenthousand isnt even technically a truck the US goverment classified it as 8 tanks Yeah whatever “WORDS” go get yours today at the Ferd dealer in town.

  • grammar June 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

    There is a perfectly good waling and biking path between sunset and snow canyon along HW 18 that goes largely unused. Beyond snow canyon, bicyclists should be considerate enough to ride single file along the edge of the road so motorists can keep the driving gymnastics to a minimum. Riding 4 abreast on a narrow 2 lane highway is tantamount to suicide.

  • BobBentBike June 14, 2012 at 10:21 am

    How about solving the problem with a few “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs?

  • Lance June 14, 2012 at 11:25 am

    First of all, they are not bike trails, they are “Multi-use Trails”. I can choose to ride on them or not. Many of these multi-use trails are not where a cyclist wants to go anyway so they ride on the road. Especially if they are planning a 40-60 mile ride that day. The trail system does not work for that purpose. Also, many cyclist in training choose to ride uninterupted on the side of the road instead of dodging the people on the trails.

    Also, as I drive on these roads, cyclists riding two abreast, or more, really ticks me off. I know the bike laws say the biker is entitled to the entire lane but should ride as far to the right as safely possible. The law says they can ride two abreast too, but that is not really safe to do around here. I prefer when I ride to stay in a single file just to help the motorists out a little.

    If UDOT chooses to place rumble stripe on their roads I guess we just have to live with it or find another highway to ride on.

  • Brett June 16, 2012 at 6:27 am

    The blind sense of entitlement of some bikers in this community is the most aggravating thing to me. Go ahead and ride your bike, it’s your right. But be smart about it instead of tempting fate. When a 50 pound bike that is riding 3 feet inside the white line forces every 2 ton vehicle that passes it into oncoming traffic I am just amazed at how that person must feel that the world revolves around them. Sure it’s all legal but is it smart, courteous, sensible. It only takes on of those 2 ton vehicles to not pay attention and you’re a goner, or they are from trying to swerve and avoid you. And personally if while avoiding you by crossing into the other lane I am faced with a decision to ram into the oncoming vehicle with both of us going 40 mph or to knock your two wheeled but off the road, you draw the short straw, sorry. I’ll maybe hurt one person rather than maybe hurt myself and the family of 4 coming right at me.

    • Really? June 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      50 lbs bike…. Was this the one you bought from Walmarts? I need to get me one of those! I pick one up along with my tofus.

  • Sar Casm June 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Ya! You dumb tofu eating cyclists… Why don’t you take your 50.7 – 60.3 lb bikes and go jump off a cliff. They will help break your landing. The roads were MADE for “gas guzzling, fossil fuel burning, ozone destroying automobiles.” NOT for you cyclists. OUR tax dollars paid for these roads…not YOURS!

    Maybe if you spent more time in a car at the drive through McDonald’s and less time in your dirty white spandex shorts you would know these things!

    Next time you want to ride your bikes on OUR roads, go pay your taxes or something! That’s what WE did to have rights to these roads! What did you do to earn these roads?? Eh Eh? The only thing you dumb cyclists do is cut off 2 ton automobiles and make us swerve head on into other empty lanes!
    If I am faced with hitting a cyclist or another car, I will darn well ensure you…It’s going to be the cyclist that goes to “cycling heaven!”

    • Get Along June 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      Ha ha ha- love it. Thanks for the laugh!

  • Jen June 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Wow. This thread is frightening and appalling. The disregard here for human life based on perceived value of the person cycling is disgusting. I’m not even a cyclist, but I am saddened to hear you’re all so calloused and bigoted that you cannot conceive, slowing for a moment until you can pass a cyclist safely. I hope you never know the extent of a loss that can come with someones snap decision based purely on a menial irritation. I would hope you’re friends and families lives would be worth a moment of inconvenience. They certainly aren’t going to find 50 mile workouts on the trail system, and I have no problem with them on the roads.

  • E. ZackwiseofDammerionVLY June 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I agree with Sar Casm and would like add that I hate Tufos next time I see you dub bikhers i going to throw the tofus at you because all you dos it get in the ways all the times its not like you comes and spend money in our little podunks town and support my Mountins do’s diet. Gas guzlers unite and DO THE DO”S!

  • Oscar June 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    So is all this anger towards bicyclists another from of racism? It sure sounds like it. Is there that many people in this area that just can’t stand the fact that there is a cyclist on the side of the roadway? They would rather kill them than apply a little brake pressure and wait a few seconds before they can safely go around them. Wow! There are some really messed up people in this area. I can’t tell if it’s sarcasm or not, but it’s pretty messed up.

    Maybe you should go on a bike ride and work some of those issues out of your system.

  • ron June 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    What is all this nonsense about cyclists not paying taxes? I’m a cyclist, and I didn’t realize that I’m exempt from paying taxes. Like almost all other cyclists except children I own a car. I pay all related fees, including gasoline taxes. I also pay Utah state taxes and property taxes and sales tax, etc. So explain to me why I don’t have the same right as non-cyclists to speak out on road use issues?

  • Bill Trist June 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm


    What fees do you pay for your BICYCLE? All the fees that you mentioned were for other things.

  • Desert Marigold June 18, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    As a recreational bicyclist and the mother of a “roadie” (a bicyclist who rides long distances), I think the main problem is that UDOT does not design roads for multiple use. My daughter loves the Veyo loop. She also has ridden long distances in Colorado and Italy, where she worked for Experience Plus, a bicycle touring company. From her perspective, most of the problems between cars and bicycles are caused by shoulders that are either nonexistent, too narrow, extremely bumpy or debris-filled for bicycles. Bicycle lanes are inconsistent and the trails are not built for serious bicyclists (they have dips, sharp turns, appear and disappear at random, conflict with turning traffic, etc.). The above problem could have been prevented if UDOT had built room for a bike lane on the other side of the rumble strip. In addition to dangerous conditions for bicyclists, many of the roads are not built for pedestrians to cross safely, either.

  • Couch to Bike June 18, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Bill your an idiot. You really want to compare who pays more taxes? Its all relative just as someone that drives a $60k truck doesn’t have any more rights than someone that drives an old clunker. Bikers pay more taxes than you know and we all own vehicles and pay sales tax, property tax and State Park fees that give us the same rights as everyone else. I am an athlete and need to emulate my race at all times. Riding on the trail at 20 mph is not feasable and dangerous to pedestrians on the trail to ride much faster. Riding on the inside shoulder with rumble strips, rocks, chunks of pavement, shredded tires, and many other hazards is suicide. I ride at 30-50 mph and clearly, one slip would be the end. Its safer to take my chances with you at the wheel and that’s a scary thought. Most vehicles out there are respectful just as most bikers are, but haters are haters and most hate because of ignorance. I invite you to ride with me and your perspective will change.

  • Taco Time June 18, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I, too, will attest to the general smugness of cyclists and their grand journeys on the roadways. I’ve one or two nerve shattering experiences with cyclists. On Pioneer Parkway, a road that offers an up and down drive with many rougher turns, I came across the horizon to a cyclist huffing air at 3 MPH with the sun directly above in the sky, 4 feet out into the traffic lane. All it would’ve taken was a split second of not paying attention and that guy would’ve been cooking on my hood. If you insist on biking at 100 degree temperatures in your spandex, please be conscientious of the road you’re on. Pioneer Parkway, generally, isn’t much fun to drive on even with or without worrying about the spandexers

    • Slow Down June 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

      I am so sorry for you did he slow you down by 10 sec’s. Taco Time is open 24hrs so there is no need to rush. Not that I believe that he was going 3 mph because that would be physically impossible but take 10 sec’s and when it’s safe to pass make the pass if you’re not paying attention you could hit anyone or anything whether its in the road or not so PAY ATTIONTION trust me it will cost you more time and money if you hit him but personally I think you like looking at the men in spandex? Is someone not secure with his sexuality? Yeah and I do wear spandex along side all the hot chicks that wear spandex so keep driving your Ferd F-teenthousand that you think you look cool in but we all know the true reason you drive it is to compensate for your little man part.

      • grammar June 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

        More smugness from our elitist cyclist friends. Stay classy bud.

        • Slow Down June 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

          Sharing the road is classy.

        • Cycleman2 June 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm

          Cyclist elitist… You need to look up the definition of elitist because you just described all your fellow friends above not willing to share the road for example Wes comment “The plain ignorance of most spandex wearing toffu eating bike riders is ridiculos! High way 18 is made, like most high ways, for fossil fuel guzzling, ozone destroying automobiles…PERIOD!!! ” sounds like he fits the definition of an elitist which is The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

  • SCF June 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    The law is the law – you got a problem complain to the law makers… As long as I am obeying the law I’ll bike where ever I want, without the least degree of care for your self absorbed whining. I try to treat everyone with respect and share the road, so you hit me I’ll bike heavens highways and you can spend the rest of your miserable life behind bars cursing bikers and making license plates to pay off the civil suit judgement from my family.

    • Murat June 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      It is a scary and disturbing thought, but you could be run down and killed instantly by someone who is texting or otherwise distracted, and in many cases this person could get off without so much as a slap on the wrist!

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