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    Sharrow research?

    Is anyone aware of research on mode share shift and safety with sharrows, or other non-bike lane bicycle infrastructure development? I have troubling data on bike lanes, but a town nearby wants to encourage bike use. Sharrows and calming measures seems as though they might be the best answer, but I would feel more comfortable if I had some actual information from their use.
    Current stable: Sun Atlas X-type (mine), Trek Navigator 3 (wife), two Sun Revolution cruisers (wife, daughter)

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    I've been wondering about traffic calming. I ride through some neighborhoods that people use as shortcuts. The town has eliminated through traffic in one neighborhood. It works ok on a bike, although it totally screwed up the traffic patterns for much of the town.

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    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Is anyone aware of research on mode share shift and safety with sharrows
    i can state with 100% confidence that sharrows do nothing when completely covered with snow.

    that may sound pithy -- and it is -- but the core point is that for a sign to work, it needs to be visible. you should factor that into your research.
    "Let's try and keep the constructive answers in the commuting forum." --SheistyMike

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    it's not as simple as slapping down sharrows on any old road.

    look to berkeley and the bike boulevard network there for an application of sharrows as part of a much larger streetscape redesign.

    research? I suspect SF, Berkeley have some initial raw data about sharrows, and the recent addendum to the MUTCD has codified them, hasn't it?
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    The new generation, larger and more stylized Sharrows are extremely helpful in my experience, the best-of-class in surface treatments. They were recently applied on several streets in my city here, streets with which I am extremely familiar, and the difference was palpable and immediate, although these things are difficult if not impossible to quantify. Much, much better than bike lanes, as long they are large enough and placed far enough out into the lane.

    In 2004, San Fran studied different types of sharrows and their effects on drivers and bicyclists:

    http://www.industrializedcyclist.com/SFsharrows.pdf

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Seattle is placing sharrows on many main streets that serve as bike arterial and connector routes thru the city. The placements are a result of the city contracting with Toole Design Group to work with the cycling community at large in developing the recent bike master plan.

    largely good treatments all around but there's some some small and next to curb placments (and in 18 hour a day parking lanes!) Some streets have mixed bike lane/sharrow treatments depending on the streetscapes that seem quite well thought out from a riding perspective. I think the better placements are more numerous than the poor ones. The city has also been proactive at reworking some designs that do not work well in their initial treatments.

    I've ridden some of the sharrowed streetscapes of San Francisco, Portland as well as Seattle and find the effects quite palpable from a riding perspective.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    It's faster than the bus Catgrrl70's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    Seattle is placing sharrows on many main streets that serve as bike arterial and connector routes thru the city. The placements are a result of the city contracting with Toole Design Group to work with the cycling community at large in developing the recent bike master plan.

    largely good treatments all around but there's some some small and next to curb placments (and in 18 hour a day parking lanes!) Some streets have mixed bike lane/sharrow treatments depending on the streetscapes that seem quite well thought out from a riding perspective. I think the better placements are more numerous than the poor ones. The city has also been proactive at reworking some designs that do not work well in their initial treatments.

    I've ridden some of the sharrowed streetscapes of San Francisco, Portland as well as Seattle and find the effects quite palpable from a riding perspective.
    Well, I only know of one area where the city actually fixed bad Sharrow placement. Otherwise Sharrows have been badly placed: 45th where the Sharrows meander from the right lane to the left lane then back to the right lane, Sharrows placed on dangerous roadways such as Admiral, and which end at a park (not useful), Sharrows placed on the wrong side of the white "fog line" on Beach Drive and have yet to be fixed in spite of numerous complaints, small Sharrows (Beach drive again, about 12" wide), Sharrows placed on the right side of the lane - encouraging cyclists to ride to the right and cars to think that's where they should be rather than placing large Sharrows smack dab in the center of the lane (California Ave), and as you state, Sharrows placed in lanes used for auto street parking so the marking is useless being placed underneath cars. The only Sharrows on my route that I actually think do a decent job are on Western, but even those could be larger and not placed so far to the right. Proper implementation is key and I do not think that SDOT understands it.

    http://www.cascade.org/Community/for...AR_MSGDBTABLE=

    http://www.cascade.org/Community/for...AR_MSGDBTABLE=

    http://www.cascade.org/Community/for...AR_MSGDBTABLE=

    http://www.cascade.org/Community/for...AR_MSGDBTABLE=
    Last edited by Catgrrl70; 11-13-08 at 12:34 PM.

  8. #8
    It's faster than the bus Catgrrl70's Avatar
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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    a lot of that griping you direct the forum to at cascade are gripings about temporary sharrow treatments, catgirl.

    I ride all over the city and see more good sharrow placements than poor. I'll going to ride 45th just for the heck of it (rode it this week to the cobbler's) and will take pictures. Should I loop out to West Seattle? last time i rode it things felt same as it ever-was still very bikeable.

    Sharrows on Dravus across 15th,
    Connecting greenlake and rooseveldt at 72nd,
    uphill on 10th, 19th on capitol hill,
    North of the university bridge on the clusterfuzzles there,
    the stone way cooridor,
    ballard between fred meyer and old town ballard,

    and many more...


    streets with a mix of bike lanes and sharrows, and intersection treatments all across town, and others all over town vastly outweigh the poor placements IMO..
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    I don't want to hear anybody arguing about bike lanes now. The Sharrows are here and the bike lanes are yesterday's news baby. One thing I haven't seen but will be glad when I do is removal of existing bike lanes for sharrow treatment.

    Agreed that placement is critical. Denver seems to be about 70% good with these new sharrows. The old ones were just about useless.

    One thing I'd like to see is mini-sharrows in the middle of left-turn-only lanes.

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    sorry, robert but they are being implemented as part of the modern hybrid streetscape depending on road width, uphill/downhill considerations, traffic volumes and desired intersection treatments.

    sharrows can work in conjunction with bike lanes, intersection bike boxes and widened lanes to improve individual streets or street networks across communities.

    this is codified in the latest MUTCD verisions. .

    you might want to consider sharrows to the exclusion of bike lanes, but that is unrealistic.

    Sharrows are being put to use as parts of hybrid streetscape design incorporating all types of road striping. you can't consider them independently as they are being implemented integrated with other street treatments.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-14-08 at 06:31 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    I don't want to hear anybody arguing about bike lanes now. The Sharrows are here and the bike lanes are yesterday's news baby. One thing I haven't seen but will be glad when I do is removal of existing bike lanes for sharrow treatment. .
    I've yet to have anyone explain to me what advantage sharrows have over bike lanes - or how they can even be considered to offer everything a bike lane does. Or why anyone wants them.

    We only have sharrows in one location that I know of here, and they are ignored. In fact I pointed them out to several people who drive/ride on that bridge, and none had ever noticed them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    sorry, robert but they are being implemented as part of the modern hybrid streetscape depending on road width, uphill/downhill considerations, traffic volumes and desired intersection treatments.

    sharrows can work in conjunction with bike lanes, intersection bike boxes and widened lanes to improve individual streets or street networks across communities.

    this is codified in the latest MUTCD verisions. .

    you might want to consider sharrows to the exclusion of bike lanes, but that is unrealistic.

    Sharrows are being put to use as parts of hybrid streetscape design incorporating all types of road striping. you can't consider them independently as they are being implemented integrated with other street treatments.
    I know how they are being implemented, same way here. They will keep the bike lanes that were already in place until the streets are resurfaced. Hopefully, by then, everybody will have realized that Sharrows are far better and the new surfaces will sport Sharrows instead of lines. But that would make a little too much sense, so I won't hold my breath.

    Downtown Portland which we always talk about here is the perfect candidate for removal of bike lanes in favor of large Sharrows placed near the center of lanes.

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    It's faster than the bus Catgrrl70's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    a lot of that griping you direct the forum to at cascade are gripings about temporary sharrow treatments, catgirl.

    I ride all over the city and see more good sharrow placements than poor. I'll going to ride 45th just for the heck of it (rode it this week to the cobbler's) and will take pictures. Should I loop out to West Seattle? last time i rode it things felt same as it ever-was still very bikeable.

    Sharrows on Dravus across 15th,
    Connecting greenlake and rooseveldt at 72nd,
    uphill on 10th, 19th on capitol hill,
    North of the university bridge on the clusterfuzzles there,
    the stone way cooridor,
    ballard between fred meyer and old town ballard,

    and many more...


    streets with a mix of bike lanes and sharrows, and intersection treatments all across town, and others all over town vastly outweigh the poor placements IMO..
    I'm not dissing Sharrows completely. Like I said, the ones I use regularly on Western are pretty good. I don't ride to the north of the city which has a much better infrastructure overall. Yes, ride West Seattle and further south. Look at the Sharrow placement on 4th. All the Sharrows referred to on the Cascade site were installed just as those temporary markings indicated. There's additional comments on Cascade about the permanent Sharrows too. Ride Admiral during rush hour, not a weekend. Ride California on a rush hour, not a weekend.

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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Good to see some cities are beginning to understand that bike lanes are not the way to go.

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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    a lot of that griping you direct the forum to at cascade are gripings about temporary sharrow treatments, catgirl.

    streets with a mix of bike lanes and sharrows, and intersection treatments all across town, and others all over town vastly outweigh the poor placements IMO..
    So now Bek has not found a sharrow (no matter how bad it's placement and size) that he does not like.

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    It's faster than the bus Catgrrl70's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    So now Bek has not found a sharrow (no matter how bad it's placement and size) that he does not like.
    I should add I'm not saying that W. Seattle is a bad place to ride, quite the contrary. It's poor placement and use of Sharrows (on the WRONG SIDE of the fog line for example, duh!) that's the problem.

    Bad Sharrow Placement on 4th Ave - like it is most of the day:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/stanleym...keLaneSharrows#
    and here
    http://sweetbike.org/gallery/v/bike/...-ave-sharrows/
    Last edited by Catgrrl70; 11-14-08 at 12:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patc View Post
    I've yet to have anyone explain to me what advantage sharrows have over bike lanes - or how they can even be considered to offer everything a bike lane does. Or why anyone wants them.

    We only have sharrows in one location that I know of here, and they are ignored. In fact I pointed them out to several people who drive/ride on that bridge, and none had ever noticed them.
    Bike lanes are great if there are not placed next to parked cars. Unfortunately many bike lanes put cyclists right in the door zone. Also bike lanes tend to just end at difficult intersections where they are needed most.

    Properly placed sharrows let cyclists know where to ride (i.e., not in the door zone) and remind motorists to share the road.

  19. #19
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    good sharrows on Bell, connecting Dexter to downtown streets....

    Robert, I think you have the wrong impression about sharrows. cities are NOT going to convert all bike lanes into sharrowed streets. Seattle is seeing hybrid implementations depending on the streetscape.

    A common configuration is converting 4 lane streets on hills into 2 lane streets with a center turn island, a climbing bike lane on the uphill side, and a sharrowed lane on the downhill side. One such street here (Stone Way) then turns into bike lanes both sides for 3 blocks, then a half mile sharrows in both directions, then a continuation of bike lanes along a lakeside, green lane treatments, and a bike boxed stoplight. to travel off this street some main routes are bike laned, and some are now sharrowed.

    of course, in Seattle there are still over 90 percent unmodified streets that riders also use- likely more vehicularily than not because of the educational effects of on-street bike infrastructure.

    Again, I've found the well positioned sharrows to outweigh the poorly placed ones, and have a more realistic expectation from the ones claimed by some to be 'door zone' sharrows
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-14-08 at 03:41 PM.
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  20. #20
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annc View Post
    Bike lanes are great if there are not placed next to parked cars. Unfortunately many bike lanes put cyclists right in the door zone. Also bike lanes tend to just end at difficult intersections where they are needed most.

    Properly placed sharrows let cyclists know where to ride (i.e., not in the door zone) and remind motorists to share the road.
    I could say the same in reverse - so I still see no reason to prefer/like/use sharrows at all. But like I said, we only seem to have them on one short stretch, so I can't comment much on personal experience. I can tell you that with cars driving right over them, they are very faded, and are covered by snow/salt/sand for about 3 months of the year - the period in which it is hardest to share the lane. They are also places way to close to the curb, implying that the narrow lane should be shared.

    I have yet to see ANY bike lane here but cyclists in the door zone, though they probably exist. I'm sure sharrows could be implemented just a badly

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    Quote Originally Posted by patc View Post
    I could say the same in reverse - so I still see no reason to prefer/like/use sharrows at all. But like I said, we only seem to have them on one short stretch, so I can't comment much on personal experience. I can tell you that with cars driving right over them, they are very faded, and are covered by snow/salt/sand for about 3 months of the year - the period in which it is hardest to share the lane. They are also places way to close to the curb, implying that the narrow lane should be shared.

    I have yet to see ANY bike lane here but cyclists in the door zone, though they probably exist. I'm sure sharrows could be implemented just a badly
    Indeed a bad sharrow placement is not helpful. They need to be pretty large and placed prominently in the lane, otherwise we're better off without them. The sharrow was born in Denver long ago. These original sharrows were graphically clumsy and small, and were placed poorly, and were generally useless and virtually unnoticed for decades, so if this is the type of sharrow deployment you've got going on there it's no surprise that you feel how you do. The new generation sharrow is a different animal, but the effect can still be nullified with lame placement.

    But in my opinion a good sharrow is better than a bike lane because it shows everybody, bicyclist included, that bicyclists are legitimate road users -- not just legitimate bike lane users -- and should be riding in the street in the direction of traffic, and it does this without keeping the bicyclists farther right than is necessary or safe and without suggesting to motorists that bicyclists always need to be, as Forester would say, "shoved over to the side." I think it does what bike lanes are supposed to do better than the bike lanes, and without the disadvantages.

    There's a street here that I've ridden down many thousands of times. Busy one way downtown, five or six lanes. One day they sacrificed the rightmost traffic lane and put in the nicest bike lane that I've ever seen in my life. About seven feet wide, and placed so far from the parked cars that the right line of the bike lane was far from the door zone. It was spatially luxurious. It was a bike lane advocate's dream come true is what it was. But I noticed one thing about this wonderful bike lane. It made virtually no practical difference to my rides down the street. It didn't help, it didn't really hurt. But then they put these new stylish and large sharrows on the part of the street that didn't have a bike lane (as Bek says, they are not in the business of replacing bike lanes with sharrows, yet) and guess what? I noticed an immediate difference on that section. An immediate improvement. Hard to quantify of course. Maybe I'm just fooling myself. I don't think so though. After many thousands of trips down the street I think I can notice subtle changes that the sharrows bring. I'm a believer.

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    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    so if this is the type of sharrow deployment you've got going on there it's no surprise that you feel how you do.
    We don't have "sharrow deployment" here, as I said. I am only aware of one small stretch of road with them, and no one is aware they exist - if fact, since they are several years old, they barely exist anymore anyway! Faint suggestions is all that is left now, but they were visible when I started riding that road.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    But in my opinion a good sharrow is better than a bike lane because it shows everybody, bicyclist included, that bicyclists are legitimate road users
    Ah, so basically political motivations. You could just as easily claim the opposite - that sharrows will motorists to believe bikes only belong on sharrowed roads. I disregard these types of claims.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    suggesting to motorists that bicyclists always need to be, as Forester would say, "shoved over to the side." I think it does what bike lanes are supposed to do better than the bike lanes, and without the disadvantages.
    We have different concept of what bike lanes are "supposed to do". (I'd say that's a completely different discussion, but you seem to be suggesting making a sharrows vs. bike lanes decision).

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    But then they put these new stylish and large sharrows on the part of the street that didn't have a bike lane (as Bek says, they are not in the business of replacing bike lanes with sharrows, yet) and guess what? I noticed an immediate difference on that section. An immediate improvement. Hard to quantify of course.
    Pity the PDF you linked to earlier failed to compare sharrows to anything but unmarked roads. In particular I would like to see comparisons of:
    - narrow vs wide curb lane (control groups)
    - both of the above vs. bike lane
    - both of the above vs. sharrows
    - both of the above before AND after a public education campaign (cyclist and motorist)

    A local city staffer told me painted stencils, stop lines, and basically anything that gets driven over a lot lasts about 2-3 years in our weather. We seldom use thermoplast, but it seems to last at most 5, less on heavily ploughed roads. Lane lines last longer outside of heavy merge zones, so the city will repaint stop lines and the area close to an intersection more often than the entire length of lane lines. I would imagine a long stretch of sharrows would cost a fair bit to maintain. Given very limited municipal resources, I want to see cost/benefit analysis.

    So again, as someone is a sharrow-less city, someone tell me what these things actually DO. So far we have one paper that suggest small changes in road spacing, with no mention of costs, and a puny sample group. Best I can make of that paper is that sharrows could be a temporary measure in a problem-prone area, until the root problems are addressed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patc View Post
    We don't have "sharrow deployment" here, as I said. I am only aware of one small stretch of road with them, and no one is aware they exist - if fact, since they are several years old, they barely exist anymore anyway! Faint suggestions is all that is left now, but they were visible when I started riding that road.
    Well, I'll repeat that not all sharrows are created equal. There are big, eye-catching sharrows and little graphically clumsy sharrows that may not even be recognized for what they are. Some are small and if placed in the tire track, will be ground to nothing before too long. One is useless and one is helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by patc View Post
    Ah, so basically political motivations. You could just as easily claim the opposite - that sharrows will motorists to believe bikes only belong on sharrowed roads. I disregard these types of claims.
    No, not political motivations. Only practical motivations. The end result is a better street, with drivers behaving slightly differently. Impossible to quantify the result entirely and impossible to say exactly how it happens, but in my professional opinion it happens. When the bike lane was installed on the same street I noticed no such improvement. To me it was a pretty persuasive experiment.

    Quote Originally Posted by patc View Post
    ... Given very limited municipal resources, I want to see cost/benefit analysis.

    So again, as someone is a sharrow-less city, someone tell me what these things actually DO. So far we have one paper that suggest small changes in road spacing, with no mention of costs, and a puny sample group. Best I can make of that paper is that sharrows could be a temporary measure in a problem-prone area, until the root problems are addressed.
    You might find some scientific justification for sharrows in cognitive research or something, but I don't think you're going to find much from cities or planning departments or advocacy organizations. Of course, if you held bike lanes to the same standard there would be no bike lanes, anywhere.

    I don't want to argue about bike lanes. I am not a bike lane hater, I just regard the argument as being one of the most useless arguments of all time, with very little practical implications. I don't regard bike lanes as nearly important enough to lobby for or against.

    Sharrows, on the other hand, I like. I am pro-Sharrow, as long as they are done right. I don't see any downsides whatsoever to properly placed sharrows.

    What do sharrows do? I don't know exactly. Something. If I had to guess I'd say they work by forcing motorists to actually think a tiny bit. I think they enhance motorist awareness of bicyclists and change their behavior. All I can do is report my own personal experience, which is that sharrows make a noticeable positive difference to my riding environment where bike lanes do not.

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Even some of the most ardent local bike lane skeptics admit they see the value in well placed climbing bike lanes on seattle's significant uphills.

    The end result of the hybrid designs seen in seattle result in a better street, in some regards better than sharrows alone would.

    This is my opinion riding streets with increasingly well thought-out bike lane and sharrow placements.

    One thing to consider about all the new street architecture is to think of how the least abled bicyclist -elderly, mobility limited - would be riding the street at 10 miles an hour. Seattle's hybrid designs make a lot of sense on a lot of streets i've been riding.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-15-08 at 10:12 AM.
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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
    But in my opinion a good sharrow is better than a bike lane because it shows everybody, bicyclist included, that bicyclists are legitimate road users -- not just legitimate bike lane users -- and should be riding in the street in the direction of traffic, and it does this without keeping the bicyclists farther right than is necessary or safe and without suggesting to motorists that bicyclists always need to be, as Forester would say, "shoved over to the side." I think it does what bike lanes are supposed to do better than the bike lanes, and without the disadvantages.... I'm a believer.
    I agree with you and I think even the most ardent VC advocates can agree.
    Sharrows do show that "cyclist belong" rather than the bike lane - "cyclist belong out of the way of motorist". the sharrows "cyclist belong" message would be most effective if they are placed on narrow high speed arterial roads.

    I especially like the idea of putting sharrows in many left turn only lanes.

    Sad to see some bike lane advocates are unwilling to join this middle ground between bike lane paint and no paint.

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