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Thread: The uselessness of sharrows

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    Default The uselessness of sharrows

    Okay, so I don't think they are always useless, they can be better than nothing and in some instances better than a doorzone bike lane (especially in places of high parking turnover), but let me present the following bit of anecdata.

    This AM I was riding down the King Street bike lanes to Old Town. There was another rider in the lanes also going southbound, something I was glad to see, as will surprise no one. He and I were keeping a similar pace, though I gathered he was a newb or occasional rider, by his lack of a helmet.

    When we got to the part between the buffered bike and the green painted lane, where there is a block that has only a sharrows, I took the center of the lane, where the sharrows is. My fellow rider rode the gutter. When we got to the end of the green painted bike lane, I again took the center of the lane, where the sharrows is. My fellow rider bailed to the sidewalk. (to note, he DID take the lane on Dangerfield, where I guess the lower traffic volume made him more confident)

    IIUC one of the main benefits of sharrows over bike lanes is encouraging newbies in the habit of riding in the center of the general travel lane, instead of staying to the right. At least in this one case it failed - the rider would have been positioned better had there been a conventional painted bike lane.

    Note, of course I am still glad we have sharrows at these locations, as opposed to having nothing at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    Okay, so I don't think they are always useless, they can be better than nothing and in some instances better than a doorzone bike lane (especially in places of high parking turnover), but let me present the following bit of anecdata.

    This AM I was riding down the King Street bike lanes to Old Town. There was another rider in the lanes also going southbound, something I was glad to see, as will surprise no one. He and I were keeping a similar pace, though I gathered he was a newb or occasional rider, by his lack of a helmet.

    When we got to the part between the buffered bike and the green painted lane, where there is a block that has only a sharrows, I took the center of the lane, where the sharrows is. My fellow rider rode the gutter. When we got to the end of the green painted bike lane, I again took the center of the lane, where the sharrows is. My fellow rider bailed to the sidewalk. (to note, he DID take the lane on Dangerfield, where I guess the lower traffic volume made him more confident)

    IIUC one of the main benefits of sharrows over bike lanes is encouraging newbies in the habit of riding in the center of the general travel lane, instead of staying to the right. At least in this one case it failed - the rider would have been positioned better had there been a conventional painted bike lane.

    Note, of course I am still glad we have sharrows at these locations, as opposed to having nothing at all.
    Perhaps if he sees your modeled behavior, he will learn.

    Every time I leave my building I ride three blocks on a 4-lane road with sharrows in the right lane. One must take the center of the lane to avoid being buzzed. I would do this regardless of the presence of sharrows, but I like that they are there.
    I have been honked at occasionally, right about where the sharrows start and shortly before I turn right onto a side street. The sharrows continue for a couple more blocks after I turn.
    My hope is that the honkers will see the sharrows, note that I was essentially riding right on top of them when they honked at me, and feel some small contrition.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    Perhaps if he sees your modeled behavior, he will learn.
    What I had meant to put in the above, and forgot to, was that I think A. Cycling classes like the WABA Confident City Cycling class, and B. Modeling by more experienced confident riders are probably much more effective in teaching correct lane placement than painting sharrows on the road.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 09-01-2018 at 05:33 PM. Reason: Correct noun verb agreement.

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    I've always viewed sharrows as helping increase awareness for cycling presence, not as an indicator of where to ride. I believe in VA the law is to ride as far to the right as reasonable/safe regardless of sharrows, right?

    I will take the lane if that feels safest, certainly. But with driver rage and passing in lane of oncoming traffic that doesn't always feel safest. (I've been witness and indirect, if faultless, cause of two car-on-car accidents from aggressive and unsafe passing.)

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    What I always wonder about are the "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs. Is the interpretation that absent such a sign, bicycles may not use the full lane? If bicycles may always use the full lane, what is the need for such signs?

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    My favorite is:
    A sign with an image of a bike means drivers should look for bikes on the road
    A sign with an image of a bike with “share the road” printed underneath means GET THE F OUT OF THE ROAD, BIKES! YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO “SHARE”

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    One interpretation is to remind/inform motorists of such rights bicycles have.
    Quote Originally Posted by accordioneur View Post
    What I always wonder about are the "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs. Is the interpretation that absent such a sign, bicycles may not use the full lane? If bicycles may always use the full lane, what is the need for such signs?
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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    I've always viewed sharrows as helping increase awareness for cycling presence, not as an indicator of where to ride. I believe in VA the law is to ride as far to the right as reasonable/safe regardless of sharrows, right?
    The language is "safely practicable". I would expect that riding where an arrow pointing on the street tells you to ride is a fairly strong defense that's the safely practicable place, no? The MUTCD says the purpose of sharrows is to:

    Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist's impacting the open door of a parked vehicle,
    Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane,
    Alert road users of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way,
    Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists, and
    Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

    (from https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009r...rt9/part9c.htm)

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    Quote Originally Posted by accordioneur View Post
    What I always wonder about are the "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs. Is the interpretation that absent such a sign, bicycles may not use the full lane? If bicycles may always use the full lane, what is the need for such signs?
    Because people are morons? The debate about whether the signs are useful is ongoing. On this the MUTCD says "The Bicycles May Use Full Lane (R4-11) sign (see Figure 9B-2) may be used on roadways where no bicycle lanes or adjacent shoulders usable by bicyclists are present and where travel lanes are too narrow for bicyclists and motor vehicles to operate side by side." Well, that's most roads. But we don't put the signs everywhere--where should they go? "The Bicycles May Use Full Lane sign may be used in locations where it is important to inform road users that bicyclists might occupy the travel lane." So they go "where it is important to inform". Basically, it's a judgment call that there's a high degree of conflict and the road ragers need some remindin'. The jury is still out on whether that makes it more likely for them to believe that bicycles are only allowed to be where there's a sign. My personal opinion is that the signs are useless: if there are enough bikes, it's obvious; if there aren't enough bikes, nobody cares about the stupid sign.

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    "...The results should be confirmed in other cities for good measure, but they certainly seem to suggest that sharrows are poor substitutes for bike lanes at best and “more dangerous than doing nothing” at worst, write Ferenchak and Marshall."

    From:
    https://www.citylab.com/solutions/20...hicago/460095/

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