Old 07-01-20, 10:36 AM
  #14  
flangehead
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston, TX
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Bikes: 2017 Co-op ADV 1.1; ~1991 Novara Arriba; 1990 Fuji Palisade; mid-90's Moots Tandem; 1985 Performance Superbe

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Sharrows Update

I can't say I've made any real headway, but I do now have a contact in the City who responds and have gotten some clues; still working it.

The recent project has a long design history. It was partially funded by TXDOT and their (current) rules require minimum 14' outside lane if marked as a shared lane bike route. I found references to 14' outer lane for this project scope in documents dating back to 2011. In 2015 when project was authorized, it was stated that the project would include bike lanes. (It is a normal pattern around here to state that bicycle facilities will be installed when the project is announced, and when it is done, no bike infrastructure to be found.) In the middle of construction, the Houston Bike Plan was adopted in 2017 and the reconstruction scope was shown as programmed "Dedicated In Street ROW" bicycle infrastructure.

So the official story I was told was that was "old design" and "we wouldn't do that now" but I suspect that means "new design now". Since projects take 5-10 years from initial design to completion, I don't know how much more of this is already in the pipeline in other parts of the city.

My best guess is that 14' outer lane was the minimum to pass the TXDOT gate for bicycle infrastructure in 2015 so that defined the concrete. When finished, they painted on two center-of-lane sharrows and put up two "Share the Road" signs.. most of the 2 mile long scope has no bike signage. Either they realized it was a bad idea, or they put in the two signs so they could check the box on "Dedicated In Street ROW".

I did wrangle an invite to a meeting of an advisory committee so I'm going to bring it up there and see if there is stuff "in the pipeline" that could be improved.

So that's the update for now. Just to be clear, I'm not posting this to be critical of local efforts by any means. My professional work includes projects and I'm very sensitive to changes in scope, requirements and so on.

Transportation standards have historically been motor-centric, and as municipalities try to move to design standards and projects that are useful for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, etc. one would expect that it won't go perfectly. I'm sharing this because some of you in other areas might be facing similar issues. The details will be different but the underlying dynamic is probably the same.
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