Rumble strips on some highways cause tires to make noise in an effort to help keep cars on the road, but cyclists in Eastern North Carolina say the newly installed rumble strips along U.S. 17 are dangerous for bicycling conditions.
The rumble strips stretch about 1.5 miles along the highway near Ten Mile Fork Road in Jones County. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said they added the strips to reduce the number of crashes along the road.
Mac Flythe, owner of Flythe's Bicycle Shop in New Bern, said Highway 17 is a popular spot for both local and long distance cyclists.
"I can understand rumble strips on Highway 70 because you're not allowed to ride a bike there, but you are allowed to ride on Highway 17 and they put rumble strips there with no warning," Flythe said.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation said the section on highway is not a designated North Carolina bike route. Officials said in 2009 the location was identified as a high hazard location due to the number of run off crashes. A D.O.T. study showed from February 2005 to January 2010 48 car crashes were reported, including one fatality, and 27 were crashes where the driver ran off the road.
Flythe said he's worried that ensuring the safety of drivers is increasing the dangers for cyclists.
"If you run over a rumble strip on a bicycle it's going to tear your front wheel up, and most likely throw you into traffic," he said.
Flythe said cyclists are taking action. He said every Saturday a group of 20 plus cyclists ride the stretch to draw attention to the danger.
"We do what we call a protest ride. We ride with signs on our back that says "no rumble strips," he said.
D.O.T. said years ago they added rumble strips along another section of Highway 17 north of Washington. Officials said since then there have been no reported incidents involving cyclists in that area.
Flythe said he plans to meet with D.O.T. officials next week to discuss the rumble strips.