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Posts Tagged ‘sharrows’

A Preventable Accident

The problem with sharrows is that impatient drivers will try to share the lane anyway. And when they do, the results can be horrible:

A female cyclist is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after she was struck by and became pinned under a float trailer that was being hauled by a large truck Wednesday morning, Toronto police say.

Police said the woman came into contact with the right side of the trailer as she cycled in Spadina Avenue’s northbound lanes, just south of Dundas Street West, at about 7:15 a.m. The woman was riding in the curb lane, where there is a sharrow lane for cyclists, with shared lane markings.

After making contact with the side of the trailer, the woman was caught by its rear wheels and dragged a short distance, police said. The northbound truck, also travelling in the curb lane, came to a stop while the woman was under the trailer.

Part of the problem with sharrows is that traffic engineers don’t even know where to put them. The sharrows on Spandina appear to be off in the gutter.

Accident scene

Accident scene

Google Streetview of intersection

Google Streetview of intersection

Google streetview of sharrow striping

Google streetview of sharrow striping

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Oakland’s 40th St is a classic road-diet candidate. A wide 4-lane arterial with left-turn pockets, it has minimal car traffic. But instead of implementing the road-diet (as called for in the Bike Plan), a “Green-Stripe” sharrow was painted instead. This morning, I made a site visit to see the results of their experiment.

The first observation is that cars were using both lanes. This was not good, as it meant higher travel speeds. Some had been hoping that the green-stripe would serve as a de-facto bike lane, but that was clearly not happening. Bikes should not have to share a lane with fast moving traffic.

I then spent some time observing how bikes were using the green-stripe sharrow. I observed 2 bikes riding to the right of the green-stripe (i.e. in the door zone). I saw another bicyclist riding on the sidewalk. 4 bicyclists did use the green-stripe as intended. I also saw another cyclist start down the street, but then cut over to the left lane to turn off onto a side street (can’t really blame him). I only had 30 minutes to observe the street operation, so this is not enough data to draw any firm conclusions. But the relatively small number of cyclists suggests the facility is not encouraging any new trips.

I will re-iterate points made in an earlier posting. The traffic volumes on 40th are sufficiently small enough that a road-diet could be easily built. That is what is called for in the Bike Plan. If Oakland city officials cannot accomplish even this trivial project, then they should just tear up the Bike Plan and terminate the bike staff.

green_stripe

green_stripe_sidewalk

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Sharrows Are Not A Bike Plan

Once upon a time, sharrows might have seemed like a good idea for special situations. But now they are a way for communities to do “pretend” bike plans. Just stripe a bunch of sharrows on streets and voila! we have a bike network — without having to make messy political compromises on parking and lane removal. A great way for city councils to pretend to care about bicycling, without actually accomplishing anything.

For example, here is a map Alhambra’s proposed bike “plan“. As you can see, it consists almost entirely of Class III routes:

Bike advocates are correct in describing this as the worst kind of 1970′s bike planning:

Vincent Chang, co-founder of Bike SGV, said for local bikers, the draft plan came up short. It doesn’t have enough physical bike lanes, he said, and misses major streets like Fremont Avenue and Valley Boulevard altogether.

“I think it definitely needs a little more work,” Chang said. “To me it seems that this plan as it stands right now it’s not really effective, it would have been a plan in the 70s or something like that. It’s just really disappointing to be frank.”

Another example is Oklahoma City. Their plan will “stripe” some 200 miles of “bikeways”. You may think 200 miles of bikeways is awesome — but note that I put the words stripe and bikeways in quotes. That 200 miles of bikeways is all Class III infrastructure, with no special bike accommodation:

OKLAHOMA CITY — The first of more than 200 miles of bike routes, including shared lanes or “sharrow” bike lanes, are being installed in Oklahoma City. The sharrows are pavement markings which, along with new signage marking the routes, remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists and convey that the street is a preferred bike route. They are different from bike lanes because they do not allocate space just for the cyclist.

“Sharrows are being installed on streets like Hefner Road and NW 19th Street that are popular with bicyclists, but are too narrow for conventional bike lanes,” said transportation planner Randall Entz. “When they are installed downtown as a part of Project 180 renovations, they will also help to keep cyclist out of the door swing zones of parked cars.”

Here is a view of Hefner Rd. How can anyone seriously argue this road is too narrow for bike lanes?

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Sharrows Suck

“Sharrow” striping is one of the stupidest ideas ever devised by road planners. Designed to avoid political conflicts on removing parking or auto lanes — they are quite useless for cyclists. Indeed, sharrows may increase the risk to cyclists according to a recent UBC study. Lots of good data in the study, but here is the main result:

The study also found traffic circles to be extremely dangerous. That is a surprising and controversial result.

Update: Here is the main link to the study group, with some additional info.

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