Louisville Bicycle Club

Louisville Bicycle Club Newsletter -- September-October 1996

Rumble Strips And Things That Go Bump In The Night

by Earl Jones

How many times have you had the nasty surprise of coming up on speed bumps, usually when you're on a nice downhill, and don't have enough notice to jump them, or at least get up in the saddle? And it's not just a question of personal discomfort — sometimes they are a real safety hazard for cyclists.

You might be surprised to know that installations like these are unapproved in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and therefore unlawful. At least I was surprised to hear that opinion from one of the City of Louisville's traffice engineers. And he backed up that opinion with citations from the Kentucky Revised Statutes and a formal Attorney General's Opinion. It turns out that public officials in some of the County's smaller cities and even a City Alderman or two, out of legitimate concern over cars speeding in residential neighborhoods, have hired paving contractors to install these devices in an attempt to slow down traffic, which they do, although with unintended consequences for cyclists.

That was the beginning of my education in the difference between speed bumps, humps, rumble bumps — all of which are unlawful; and rumble strips — which are permitted. It was also the beginning of the Club's campaign to have the unlawful nuisances removed from some of our regular riding routes.

You may have noticed that the rumble bumps are gone from Cherokee Gardens off Seneca Park and from Hillcrest between Frankfort and Brownsboro Road in Crescent Hill. And we're looking for others. So send in your nominations for your favorite “unapproved traffic control device” to be consigned to the asphalt pits. Write me or leave a note with a ride captain. Here are the criteria: the device must be a bump, hump or series of bumps — not a rumble strip (defined as 2 or 3 times the thickness of lane marking tape); the road should be one used on Club rides; and it should be in a residential area, thereby increasing the chances that we can support an already-annoyed group of residents.

On another front, effective July 15, 1996, Kentucky cyclists can lawfully signal a right turn while in traffic by extending their right arm and hand out in that direction. Since many people do this anyway, I suppose it's good to know that it's now lawful to do so. But a point of caution: the change has not yet been reflected in drivers' ed materials and although it may seem intuitive that pointing right means you are proceeding to the right, many motorists may not be familiar with the new signal. As a test I made calls to a couple of driving schools: not one was aware of the new law.

So call me old-fashioned, but I'll stick with the left-hand-in-upward-right-angle signal — at least for a while.

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last updated: 30 August 1996
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