As we reported in September, residents of Vashon got organized and successfully stopped plans for rumble strips on Vashon Island highway shoulders, arguing that the strips make roads more dangerous and less comfortable for cycling.
Today, Bike Vashon reports that King County workers are out removing the few stretches of rumble strips they had completed before the community convinced them to halt the work (UPDATE: Crews are only removing some of the rumble strips, primarily where they reduced the shoulder width to less than five feet).
Stopping the rumble strips, which in places reduced a formerly bikeable shoulder to just a couple feet of rideable width, was a significant victory for bike safety. But perhaps more importantly, the strips spurred people to get organized and engaged behind the cause of road safety for all Vashon road users. Residents got politically active, wrote a position paper about proper rumble strip use on the island and twice engaged the Vashon Maury Island Community Council to vote against the rumble strips (which they did both times).
Puget Sound islands are beautiful, special places, but their roads see their share of senseless deaths and injuries. Like anywhere, safe roads do not just happen. They require an active community pushing their transportation departments and elected officials to make needed changes.
I’ve heard calls for six-foot minimum widths for shoulders. This sounds like a great start, since skinnier travel lane widths also decrease speeding, a big problem on many island roads. What changes do you think could make the biggest impact on all-ages island road safety?