Pavement Markers as Noise Makers

Reflective Pavement Markers

Reflective Pavement Markers

From time to time, certain legislatures and citizens try to pass laws to require that electric cars make noise in order to alert people in the area that a car is coming.  I don’t support passing these laws and think people should simply be more aware of their surroundings.

On rare occasions, I have found it necessary to lightly tap on my horn when driving a Tesla.  Sometimes a group of people may be lingering in the middle of a parking lot for example, and there simply is no other way to get their attention without leaving the vehicle.

A lot of bicycle riders like to use the local roads for recreation.  I am both a Model S driver and a cyclist.  Only a small percentage of the riders in my immediate area are commuting or running errands on their bicycles.  From time to time there are groups of people who do not frequently bike and are distracted chatting with their friends while riding side to side.  Technically on roads without bike lanes, riding side by side is not legal.   For roads with wide enough shoulders, this behavior is not really an issue, but there are certain areas with narrow blind curves where a bicyclist can be at serious risk.

From time to time tensions flare up between cyclists and drivers, but the debate seems slightly incredulous as there are few cyclists who are also not drivers.  When I am riding, I am highly cognizant that I am not always glaringly visible, but more importantly much more vulnerable than when driving the Model S.

I have recently discovered a nice way to alert riders ahead that a quiet car is approaching.  In the middle of most roads are reflective pavement markers.  These markers serve two general purposes:  mark the center of the lane in low light conditions, and create noise when someone drifts out of their lane.  I have found a third purpose; with no approaching cars on the other side of the road and a cyclist or pair of cyclist ahead on a narrow road, I will drive my left hand tires directly over these pavement markers.  This action creates a slight noise, just enough to alert the cyclist that someone is approaching from behind.  The rumble is much softer and gentler than a honk of the horn.

In California a new law was recently passed requiring drivers to give cyclists three feet of space between themselves and the car.  If three feet is not available, the driver must slow down to pass safely.  In rural locations, officers said they will be unlikely to cite a driver who drifts over into the other lane to give the cyclists more room.  This practice has been common here for years.

I think by just brushing these pavement markers, electric car drivers can alert but not startle cyclists of their presence when necessary.

Leisurely Weekend Cyclists

Leisurely Weekend Cyclists


9 thoughts on “Pavement Markers as Noise Makers

  1. Up front I am going to say that I believe I am not as hard hearted as I may sound. You are very polite and PC when you state your points about bikes. However, if a road is not wide enough for a proper shoulder, I say no bikes. I live in a rural area composed of many narrow and hilly roads that bikes like. Racing in packs is popular here. Rarely have I noticed bikes respect the “rules of the road” mainly at intersections or when traveling up hill and blocking a lane. When passing, I have had them move over and purposely strike my mirror, gently, with their hand. This also closes the three foot rule that we also have in effect. Being surprised by a pack at a blind corner is NOT a rare happening. I now blow my horn, especially on weekends, at these corners. Occasionally, the surprise is farm equipment on the move. Our county councilman is now involved because of constituent pressure. Oddly, I am not one of the people pressuring him. To my knowledge, as of today, no one has been injured in our area but if this situation continues, it is just a matter of time. I am going to blow my horn (rude) in hope that an uninsured bike does not damage my quiet car.

    • Our clashes here are not anywhere near as bad as in your area. Outside of one road, the main roads have decent sized shoulders and no blind curves. We have a regular pack that takes over the road, but that’s only one per day and they are on a fixed schedule. The packs are a different “animal” than individual or two friends biking together.

      Cyclists have a legal right to the road, so your not going to get the “no bikes”.

      We also for a period of time had a sheriff ticket cyclist that ran stop signs. So most cyclists are quite reasonable. The challenges are kind of on each end of the scale: the uber athlete and the first time cyclist with their bestie chatting.

      But I’m not in a truly rural area, more of a rural looking area very close to a major metropolitan area. I just did not want to have a us vs. them debate on a car blog. Try the rolling over pavement markers if you have them.

  2. FYI, in places with snow removal equipment they dig down (notch) into the asphalt to make those markers even with the ground and they produce no noise when you ride over them.

  3. These artificial noise for electric car ideas are a bit misplaced I think. While it’s true electric cars are quiet, so are modern ICE cars. As a pedestrian most cars I can hear the hum of the tires behind me before I can hear the engine. Yet I don’t hear politicians talking about adding a noise to ICE cars.

    When it comes to cyclists, I think part of the problem is drivers don’t know how to drive when it comes to cyclists, combined drivers being really bad with driving, combined with cyclists not following the rules with the road. Most cyclists don’t follow any of the laws pertaining to cycling, and therefore are unpredictable. Drivers don’t know the rules when it comes to cyclists, so they overreact.

    As someone who drives, cycles, and walks I don’t like other drivers, because as I said previously, people are really bad at driving.

  4. I’m curious, Tesla owner who’s a cyclist…. when you’re riding your bike, do you come to a complete and total stop at stop signs (not to mention red lights)? I’m curious. The vast vast vast majority of cyclists do not, so I was curious if you were part of the vast majority.

    • I actually do the vast majority of the time. It is safer for me and everyone else on the road. As a driver it is confusing when cyclists do not stop as their behavior is unpredictable at complex intersections. I rarely ride where there are traffic lights.

      There are one or two stop signs locally that are a bit looney for cyclists. One is at a T-junction where legally when going straight along the T with plenty of space along the road’s edge, a cyclists needs to stop even when continuing straight. I have to admit when there is zero traffic in view, I will at times ignore the stop there.

      I must admit a small part of the reasons I obey the stop sign rules is that I have an unusual bike. I ride an Easy Racer recumbent bike and I also ride in my own town. So I don’t feel like an anonymous cyclist that can get away with rude behavior. Like Teslas, recumbent bikes are not ubiquitous.

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