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Thread: Sharrows

  1. #1
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Sharrows

    I had never heard of sharrows until I read this article: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0831/p14s02-ussc.html. What does everyone think of them?

    I like the idea of having a visible aid to motorists that it's OK for cyclists to use the road. Many motorists don't know (or don't accept) what the law is. I do worry that once drivers become accustomed to sharrows they will think that roads without them are off-limit to cyclists.

    Please don't turn this thread into a bike lane debate, we have enough of that already.

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    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    We have them, notably on bridges without bike lanes (along with "share the road" signs). I'm not sure if they make any difference or not.

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    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I don't see the point of sharrows, and I worry about the slipperiness of additional paint on the road surface. However, I will read comments from sharrows advocates with an open mind. I think I would rather see reduced speed limits and traffic calming.
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    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    seems like a very good idea - people seem to naturally follow arrows symbols on the road. Should also be coupled with VC leaflets and school programs

    IMHO a good example are the lines at the doors in the transit at o'hare. o'hare - lines - everyone lines up neatly behind the lines allowing people off. British underground - no lines - complete gangf*ck as everyone tries to get on and off at the same time.

    now if only british planners would move away from 70cm green strips painted into the pavement with no regard of obstacles or traffic safety.
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    Senior Member LCI_Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCCommuter
    I like the idea of having a visible aid to motorists that it's OK for cyclists to use the road. Many motorists don't know (or don't accept) what the law is. I do worry that once drivers become accustomed to sharrows they will think that roads without them are off-limit to cyclists.
    That's a good summary of the arguments boths pro and con regarding sharrows.

    In addition to the points above, one of the stated purposes of sharrows is to tell cyclists where to be in the lane. So one question that comes up is where do you place the sharrow in the lane? If on-street parking is permitted, you'd want it far enough away from parked cars. But on the other hand, if there's no parked cars at the time, then the cyclist might not have to be that far out in the lane.

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    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I've been honked at perhaps 5 times in my life, one was on a street with signs like that.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    My understanding is that they're completely ineffective - i.e., they have no effect on anyone.

    But, if they did have an effect, it seems to me they would specify a static path for cyclists, just like you-know-whats.

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    Well beyond the sharrows, the city is advertising the rights of cyclists and the fact that cyclists use the roads too.

    Maybe the sharrows don't mean much, but getting the word out is a start.

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    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    California bikers already have the right to use any road not specifically identified as off-limits to bikers. A lot of drivers don't seem to realize that. So here's my idea:

    Paint "Sharrows" on ALL THE ROADS!

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Well, once again, the idea of communicating to motorists that bicyclists belong on the road can easily be misunderstood to mean that "bicyclists ride here," and only where marked. Of course I'm being quite negative, which I am not by nature.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 09-06-05 at 09:16 AM.
    No worries

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    Warning:Mild Peril Treespeed's Avatar
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    I'm going to hang a big Sharrow sign on my back, that way folks know where to expect to see a cyclist.
    Non semper erit aestas.

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    I have never heard the term "sharrows" before but I have thought that something along these lines might be a good idea. While like with anything else there could be implementation and interpretation problems I was thinking this concept might be a good compromise.

    It seems to me that one of the major things if not the major thing that needs to be done is education, both of drivers and riders. The question is what is the most effictive way to do it. I'm thinking that something like sharrows might be a cost-effective way to reinforce the message that bikes belong on the road and generally where they should be and what direction they should be moving without locking them into bikelanes. Of course it would be best coupled with other efforts to educate. And I'm not thinking of them as eliminating need for or use of any other appropriate measures such as traffic calming, signage or whatever.

    It will be interesting to see how effective they are.

  13. #13
    stare master
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    combine the sharrows with "Bicycles may use full lane - change lanes to pass" signs. Sprinkle them everywhere. I saw those signs in San Francisco this past weekend, they're purdy... If that doesn't clear things up for motorists, nothing will.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I think it's a great experiment, but share the concern of littlebigman and others that people will interpret the signs to mean that bikes are welcome only in sharrows, and should not be using other streets.

    I also think that the city engineers should recruit experienced cyclists to plan the placement of sharrows. Even well trained engineers cannot "see" the streeets the way we do, unless they also cycle.

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    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    San Francisco studied placement of sharrows outside the door zone on roads with on-street parking. In some cases the sharrows were near the center of the lane. Cyclists rode a bit farther away from the doors, and motorists passed at wider distance. Wrong-way and sidewalk cycling also declined.

    The NCUTCD is considering adding them to MUTCD for the purpose of encouraging cyclists to ride farther from the edge of the lane, and to alert motorists as to where cyclists may be operating.

    Note that sharrows could easily be abused, too. They could end up placed on the right edge of narrow lanes to encourage cyclists to get out of the way. This would be a variation on the substandard-width-bike-lane problem that sometimes happens where street designers try to squeeze cyclists and motorists into supposedly carefree side-by-side operation where in fact much more caution is warranted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri
    ... Cyclists rode a bit farther away from the doors, and motorists passed at wider distance. Wrong-way and sidewalk cycling also declined. ... .
    This is the kind of results I would be hoping for. I think that they also might be helpfull in training people on proper/legal lane position at intersections, ie. lane selection and position based on intended direction of travel.


    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri
    ... Note that sharrows could easily be abused, too. They could end up placed on the right edge of narrow lanes to encourage cyclists to get out of the way. This would be a variation on the substandard-width-bike-lane problem that sometimes happens where street designers try to squeeze cyclists and motorists into supposedly carefree side-by-side operation where in fact much more caution is warranted.
    I agree but don't think the possibility is unique to sharrows. There's potential for abuse and/or simply poor implementation of virtually every option available and the only way to address it is active participation of experienced cyclists in policy making and planning.

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    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabowker
    I think that they also might be helpfull in training people on proper/legal lane position at intersections, ie. lane selection and position based on intended direction of travel.
    I don't understand how they would, since it's unknown to the road designer what a cyclists' destination is. Are you advocating putting bike stencils in every lane at intersections?

    Seems to me that the existing arrows should be enough. Wouldn't it be a shame to clutter up all the roads when a simple education campaign would suffice? Billboards would be better than lane stencils for that, in my opinion.

    -Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri
    I don't understand how they would, since it's unknown to the road designer what a cyclists' destination is. Are you advocating putting bike stencils in every lane at intersections?

    Seems to me that the existing arrows should be enough. Wouldn't it be a shame to clutter up all the roads when a simple education campaign would suffice? Billboards would be better than lane stencils for that, in my opinion.

    -Steve
    I'm suggesting that some use of multiple lane markings on some multilane roads might be beneficial in reinforcing the idea that bicycles should be expected to merge with motor vehicle traffic at intersections and how. Overuse is certianly a possibility and we probably don't want huge amounts of slick paint on the roads either.

    Should existing lane markings be enough? Yes, as long as everyone understands that they apply to everyone, but I don't think we're there yet. How do we get there? Well worded billboards are a great idea. Some limited use of an expanded sharrow concept is worth considering. It may not be ideal, but if it helps it's good.

    For what it's worth, my experience where I'm at has been pretty good and I've not experienced nearly the issues that others here relate. But I would say, as a driver that has only relatively reciently started riding on the roads again and reading about cycling safety and evaluating what I read, most drivers are totally unaware of cycling issues, rights and operational responsibilities. The issue is effective education and enforcement.

  19. #19
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    I like sharrows although I didn't know they were called that. The ones I've encountered are placed about where I would be riding anyway, which I prefer over many bike lanes I've seen. (I find myself riding outside of the bike lane much of the time).

    I'd like to see virtually every road have either sharrows, "bike route" signs, "share the road" signs or a bike lane. We seem to be getting fairly close to that now, at least where I ride. None of these things effect where on the road I ride, but they do indicate to motorists that I belong there.
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