Rumble strip opponents get community council backing

The Vashon-Maury Island Community Council on Monday unanimously passed a motion to demand that the county Department of Transportation make no more rumble strips on Vashon Highway and pave over existing rumble strips in the next two years. The motion was presented by Steve Abel, a high-profile Islander and avid cyclist, and passed 35-0.

Much of Vashon’s cycling community has rallied behind the effort to rid Vashon Highway of rumble strips installed by the county without warning in April. Islanders have expressed  their concerns about what they say are the strips’ hazards to cyclist safety in letters and calls to the county and during public meetings on the topic.

Abel said that 15 to 20 cyclists showed up at Monday’s VMICC meeting to support the motion. He had expected more would come, he said, but was ultimately pleased to find the non-cyclists supported his motion as well.

“We thought we would pack the meeting, but it turns out we didn’t have to,” he said.

In the motion, the community council also demands that any rumble strips made where the narrow shoulder should have prevented them be repaved by the end of the summer. In addition, the motion asks that the county better maintain the higway shoulders through brush cutting and street sweeping and that it work with the Vashon community to gain recognition by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community, a title Abel said towns across the country work to gain.

“It’s a goal to aspire to,” he said.

Abel said he believes the requests are reasonable, giving the county time to pave over the existing rumble strips as part of its regular paving schedule. Now that the motion has passed, he says he will meet with DOT officials soon to discuss the requests.

“We think our motion is pretty reasonable, pretty moderate, pretty conciliatory,” he said.

Abel said he hoped that the formal community council demand would give the rumble strip opponents more legitimacy when working with the county.

“Vashon doesn’t have any formal voice,” he said. “This is the closest thing we have to a formal voice in King County affairs.”

Meanwhile, a woman says a recent bike accident that sent her to the hospital was caused by rumble strips.

Islander Leslie Perry, 64, was riding southbound on Vashon Highway, just past Cemetery Road, when she says she rode onto a rumble strip and fell off of her bike. Perry lost consciousness in the fall and says she doesn’t remember why she rode onto the rumble strip. She was transported to Harborview, where she was treated for two broken bones in her nose and a broken bone in her hand. She also suffered cuts and bruises.

“My face is pretty much swollen,” she said.

Abel said he was familiar with Perry’s accident and believes it was caused by the rumble strip.

“I hate to use an unfortunate situation as ammunition, but it definitely makes very poignant the fact that rumble strips are dangers to non-motorized road users,” he said.


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