Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Advocacy & Safety
Reload this Page >

Sharrows Implementation: Experience with Officials

Notices
Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

Sharrows Implementation: Experience with Officials

Old 06-12-20, 08:19 AM
  #1  
flangehead
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 328

Bikes: 2017 Co-op ADV 1.1; ~1991 Novara Arriba; 1990 Fuji Palisade; mid-90's Moots Tandem

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 130 Post(s)
Liked 180 Times in 99 Posts
Sharrows Implementation: Experience with Officials

I'm going to be providing some feedback to the City of Houston regarding some sharrows they have painted in my area. It would help me to get comments from others; I don't know where my blind spots are.

Let me start out by saying that I'm not really interested in sharrows yes/sharrows no for this scope. They are in the Houston Bike Plan "toolkit" so for now they are available as a tool. If used, I want them used sensibly.

So here's the situation: About 5 years ago, a street was rebuilt from 2 lane asphalt/bar ditch to 4 lane concrete, with 13'9" outer lanes with sharrows painted about 5 feet from curb and with "Share the Road" signage. This became a new good commute route, and I've been taking the lane. Traffic generally is light. Area is light manufacturing and warehouses; lots of semi-trailers. About 1/2 of it has frequent sidestreets and business curb cuts. Posted 40 and 45 mph; flat and straight.

At this time, the sharrows have all effectively worn off; just a few splotches of paint here and there. I called to see if they are going to repaint and they said they wouldn't. I assumed the sharrows are an experiment that failed. Lately, I've been moving over to 3' from the curb when I have traffic behind. Haven't had any issues but traffic has been light. (13'9" is practically 14'.)

But then I go to a new major 35 mph posted arterial in the area and see brand new sharrows in the middle of a 15' outside lane.

I don't know what they're thinking so I'm going to go talk to them.

My current story is that they are setting up a legally ambiguous situation and they need to stop doing it.

Texas law is FRAP, and one of the exceptions is any lane less than 14'. So a sharrow in the middle of a 15' lane means ??? In both cases, they had room to put a bike lane in, or they could have narrowed the lane and put in sharrows, in which case they would need to maintain them and should use BMUFL instead of STR signage.

If you've had experience with this issue I'd like to hear your war story.

Thanks!


After 5 years the sharrows have worn off and will not be repainted. (40 mph, 13'9" lane).


Recently rebuilt road. (35 mph, 15' lane).
flangehead is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 09:41 AM
  #2  
Miele Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,800

Bikes: Miele Beta, Miele Latina, Miele Suprema, Miele Uno LS, Miele MTB, Bianchi Model Unknown, Fiori Venezia, VeloSport Adamas AX

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 992 Post(s)
Liked 554 Times in 380 Posts
I don't see the need for the sharrows at all. The signage should be enough.

Cheers
Miele Man is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 12:11 PM
  #3  
livedarklions
Cyclesomatic
 
livedarklions's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 7,143

Bikes: Serotta Atlanta; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; Motobecane Fantom CX; Giant OCR A1

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3699 Post(s)
Liked 2,466 Times in 1,413 Posts
Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I don't see the need for the sharrows at all. The signage should be enough.

Cheers
I think it's just the opposite, except for the paradox flangehead identified (see my next post).

"Share the Road" is essentially meaningless, and could just as easily be interpreted to mean "bikes have to get out of the way" as "cars must give bicycles room". A properly deployed sharrow shows you exactly which lane a bicyclist can lay claim to.
livedarklions is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 12:57 PM
  #4  
livedarklions
Cyclesomatic
 
livedarklions's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 7,143

Bikes: Serotta Atlanta; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; Motobecane Fantom CX; Giant OCR A1

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3699 Post(s)
Liked 2,466 Times in 1,413 Posts
Originally Posted by flangehead View Post
I'm going to be providing some feedback to the City of Houston regarding some sharrows they have painted in my area. It would help me to get comments from others; I don't know where my blind spots are.

Let me start out by saying that I'm not really interested in sharrows yes/sharrows no for this scope. They are in the Houston Bike Plan "toolkit" so for now they are available as a tool. If used, I want them used sensibly.

So here's the situation: About 5 years ago, a street was rebuilt from 2 lane asphalt/bar ditch to 4 lane concrete, with 13'9" outer lanes with sharrows painted about 5 feet from curb and with "Share the Road" signage. This became a new good commute route, and I've been taking the lane. Traffic generally is light. Area is light manufacturing and warehouses; lots of semi-trailers. About 1/2 of it has frequent sidestreets and business curb cuts. Posted 40 and 45 mph; flat and straight.

At this time, the sharrows have all effectively worn off; just a few splotches of paint here and there. I called to see if they are going to repaint and they said they wouldn't. I assumed the sharrows are an experiment that failed. Lately, I've been moving over to 3' from the curb when I have traffic behind. Haven't had any issues but traffic has been light. (13'9" is practically 14'.)

But then I go to a new major 35 mph posted arterial in the area and see brand new sharrows in the middle of a 15' outside lane.

I don't know what they're thinking so I'm going to go talk to them.

My current story is that they are setting up a legally ambiguous situation and they need to stop doing it.

Texas law is FRAP, and one of the exceptions is any lane less than 14'. So a sharrow in the middle of a 15' lane means ??? In both cases, they had room to put a bike lane in, or they could have narrowed the lane and put in sharrows, in which case they would need to maintain them and should use BMUFL instead of STR signage.

If you've had experience with this issue I'd like to hear your war story.

Thanks!


After 5 years the sharrows have worn off and will not be repainted. (40 mph, 13'9" lane).


Recently rebuilt road. (35 mph, 15' lane).

I see what you're talking about because there's nothing in Houston City Ordinances that would empower the city to designate a 15 foot traffic lane as being fully useable by bikes, but I wonder if the distance between the lane divider paint and the stripe on the right isn't actually 14 feet instead of 15.
livedarklions is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 01:33 PM
  #5  
Juan Foote
LBKA (formerly punkncat)
 
Juan Foote's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Jawja
Posts: 3,586

Bikes: Spec Roubaix SL4, GT Traffic 1.0

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1099 Post(s)
Liked 115 Times in 88 Posts
I am completely unfamiliar with the entire scope of the law, but here in GA if they build new state highway then a bike lane HAS to be integrated into it. I am also aware of an initiative where any streets within a city that are redesigned are supposed to have bicycle lanes be part of the consideration. What I DON'T know concerning this law is what they have to do to maintain, keep painted, safe, etc. One of the major things I would personally like to see done away with in regard to it here is that they grind these spots in such that tires make noise if you drift off lane. They have been putting these right on/in the bike lane area and anyone that has ridden over them knows they are super dangerous and uncomfortable to a cyclist.

I wish you luck but suspect that without a big dog behind you it's going to be a waste of time.
Juan Foote is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 09:03 PM
  #6  
scott967
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Oahu, HI
Posts: 1,184

Bikes: 89 Paramount OS 84 Fuji Touring Series III New! 2013 Focus Izalco Ergoride

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 221 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 20 Times in 16 Posts
I'm not exactly sure what the issue is? You're saying if a lane is wide sharrows cause some sort of problem? My main issue is here they use that elastomeric coating (whatever it's called) and I don't like going over them, so usually pass left or right, while if they weren't there it would be better for everyone. Though if I hit them just right I can go over the down tube and top tube and split the left/right chevrons (there's a couple inch gap in there on ours).

scott s.
.
scott967 is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 09:38 PM
  #7  
debade
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: WA
Posts: 294

Bikes: Trek Domane, Trek 2120, Trek 520, Schwinn Voyager step through

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 102 Post(s)
Liked 22 Times in 18 Posts
I expect for the original sharrow placement, someone realized that a 45 MPH road is not designed for sharrows. I think their greatest use is in 25 MPH. From Bicycling Mag comment on sharrows "Think slower-moving neighborhood streets; you’re never supposed to see sharrows in areas with speed limits above 35 mph." I am not certain if that is a law or suggestion. The only time I remember sharrows on 40 + MPH roads is when the bike lane ends. Perhaps over the last 5 years, someone read the AASHTO, NATCO or accepted recommendation. You might want to become familiar with the latest recommendations for sharrows from one of these or similar orgs.

As for your new 15' lane, I think most road engineers with a sense for safety for all road users, would be recommending an 11' lane, which would accommodate 18 wheelers and 4 foot bike lane, given the 35 MPH. If large trucks will be infrequent or not at all, a 10' lane with a buffered bike lane would be the safest (unless you can get a protected lane) for all road users. 10/11" lanes have been shown to reduce motor vehicle accidents vs wider lanes. The bike lane will be safer for bicycles and help with traffic calming. The narrowing of the motor traffic lane supports ped safety since they cross a narrower motorized section of the street.

You may also want to remind the engineers about car speed impact on injury and death. At 30 MPH a ped has a 50% to survive. At 40 itis 10%.

Hope this helps. I will be following this as I think it will be a good learning experience.
debade is offline  
Old 06-13-20, 07:04 AM
  #8  
roundypndr
Been around the block
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 32
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I don't see the need for the sharrows at all. The signage should be enough.

Cheers
The local road works department had repaved one section of a sharrow marked street, along with their taking some time in replacing the sharrow markings, and during the time of the sharrow markings absence, motorist attitudes toward me were remarkably different, though my riding style was still the same.
roundypndr is offline  
Old 06-13-20, 07:08 AM
  #9  
Miele Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,800

Bikes: Miele Beta, Miele Latina, Miele Suprema, Miele Uno LS, Miele MTB, Bianchi Model Unknown, Fiori Venezia, VeloSport Adamas AX

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 992 Post(s)
Liked 554 Times in 380 Posts
Originally Posted by roundypndr View Post
The local road works department had repaved one section of a sharrow marked street, along with their taking some time in replacing the sharrow markings, and during the time of the sharrow markings absence, motorist attitudes toward me were remarkably different, though my riding style was still the same.
Different for the better or worse behaviour?

Cheers
Miele Man is offline  
Old 06-13-20, 07:13 AM
  #10  
roundypndr
Been around the block
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 32
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Different for the better or worse behaviour?

Cheers
Remarkably more impatient on the motorists' part.
roundypndr is offline  
Old 06-13-20, 08:17 AM
  #11  
mr_bill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 4,121
Mentioned: 33 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1835 Post(s)
Liked 333 Times in 240 Posts
Chapter 9C, MUTCD

“9C-9 Shared Lane Marking

Guidance:
02 The Shared Lane Marking should not be placed on roadways that have a speed limit above 35 mph.”

Should not. Not shall not.

https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/bikeway-signing-marking/shared-lane-markings/]Shared Lane Markings - NACTO

“On streets with posted 35 mph speeds or faster and motor vehicle volumes higher than 3,000 vpd shared lane markings are not a preferred treatment. On these streets other bikeway types are preferred.”

-mr. bill
mr_bill is offline  
Old 06-15-20, 12:18 PM
  #12  
livedarklions
Cyclesomatic
 
livedarklions's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 7,143

Bikes: Serotta Atlanta; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; Motobecane Fantom CX; Giant OCR A1

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3699 Post(s)
Liked 2,466 Times in 1,413 Posts
Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
Chapter 9C, MUTCD

“9C-9 Shared Lane Marking

Guidance:
02 The Shared Lane Marking should not be placed on roadways that have a speed limit above 35 mph.”

Should not. Not shall not.

https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/bikeway-signing-marking/shared-lane-markings/]Shared Lane Markings - NACTO

“On streets with posted 35 mph speeds or faster and motor vehicle volumes higher than 3,000 vpd shared lane markings are not a preferred treatment. On these streets other bikeway types are preferred.”

-mr. bill
That seems like "no, duh" advice.

Hard for me to imagine a 45 mph road where a sharrow would be of any use. Have you ever seen such an implementation succeed?
livedarklions is offline  
Old 06-19-20, 06:54 AM
  #13  
flangehead
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 328

Bikes: 2017 Co-op ADV 1.1; ~1991 Novara Arriba; 1990 Fuji Palisade; mid-90's Moots Tandem

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 130 Post(s)
Liked 180 Times in 99 Posts
Thanks; update

mr_bill, thanks for the MUTCD and NACTO references. When I finally get through to someone I'll post outcome. Don't hold your breath.

Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
I wish you luck but suspect that without a big dog behind you it's going to be a waste of time.
My status is that I still haven't been able to talk to anyone with the City. I've got two more possible approaches that are "reasonable" then I'll have to ratchet up. Understand uphill battle.

Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I see what you're talking about because there's nothing in Houston City Ordinances that would empower the city to designate a 15 foot traffic lane as being fully useable by bikes, but I wonder if the distance between the lane divider paint and the stripe on the right isn't actually 14 feet instead of 15.
Good eye. I went back to look more carefully. Most of the road has no right edge paint. The place I took the picture was where construction segments crossed over and that is old paint from the construction period. I did look more carefully at the road surface and the longitudinal grooving is applied to a little less than 13 feet. I suppose I could argue that is the lane width but that feels like legal nitpicking to me.


No lane paint next to curb (in general) and grooved to about 2 feet from the curb.

Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
I'm not exactly sure what the issue is? You're saying if a lane is wide sharrows cause some sort of problem?
The issue is that in Texas, for lanes less than 14 foot wide, a cyclist can legally take the lane. Over 14', a cyclist has to ride as far right as practicable (which leaves other reasons such as debris, safety, etc.). So a sharrow in the middle of a 15' lane is probably indicating that a cyclist should break Texas law.
flangehead is offline  
Likes For flangehead:
Old 07-01-20, 10:36 AM
  #14  
flangehead
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 328

Bikes: 2017 Co-op ADV 1.1; ~1991 Novara Arriba; 1990 Fuji Palisade; mid-90's Moots Tandem

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 130 Post(s)
Liked 180 Times in 99 Posts
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.
flangehead is offline  
Old 07-01-20, 11:03 AM
  #15  
debade
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: WA
Posts: 294

Bikes: Trek Domane, Trek 2120, Trek 520, Schwinn Voyager step through

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 102 Post(s)
Liked 22 Times in 18 Posts
It looks like you are doing this all on your own. Have you reached out to Bike Houston? A quick look at their website suggests they could be very helpful https://bikehouston.org/ . If you have and it was not successful, it would be interesting to find out why they were not supportive.
debade is offline  
Old 07-01-20, 11:30 AM
  #16  
flangehead
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 328

Bikes: 2017 Co-op ADV 1.1; ~1991 Novara Arriba; 1990 Fuji Palisade; mid-90's Moots Tandem

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 130 Post(s)
Liked 180 Times in 99 Posts
Originally Posted by debade View Post
Have you reached out to Bike Houston?
Yes, I know them and am a member. They've recently had turnover/reduction in staff. I'm keeping them in the loop on what I'm finding.
flangehead is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.