MANSON –As the popular bumper sticker suggests to “See Bicycles,” doing that is becoming easier with an assist from the Washington State Department of Transportation. This aid comes in the form of a first-of-its-kind flashing-beacon system at Rocky Point on State Route 150 between Chelan and Manson. The solar powered yellow lights are automatically triggered when a bicycle passes, alerting drivers to the signs between the beacons that say “narrow shoulder” and “watch for bikes.”
The project originated in July 2011 when WSDOT was contacted by a Manson resident concerned about the increase in vehicle and bicycle traffic on the highway during the summer tourism season. During the next two years, WSDOT analyzed collision data and conducted outreach efforts that generated feedback from residents and a variety of user groups confirming the need.
WSDOT determined flashing beacons were the best alternative; however bringing power to the site was cost prohibitive. Eventually, a solar panel system combined with a seasonally scheduled daily timer was developed. The next issue to resolve was the detection system. Current WSDOT bike beacons are manually activated by the rider; this one detects bikes with a radar system that differentiates between bicycles, pedestrians and motorcycles.
Engineers completed final design and plans last summer, a contractor was selected and the new flashing beacon pole was fabricated. Installation and testing began this spring, final adjustments were complete the week before Memorial Day and the $16,000 system went into service.
Feedback from drivers and riders over the past three weeks has been positive. If the system proves successful, WSDOT will consider other remote locations for installation.
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