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Thread: The uselessness of sharrows

  1. #21
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    I think sharrows for new cyclists can be confusing. An employee of WABA was giving instructions to a group of new cyclists recently at an event I attended, and told them "sharrows mean you're allowed to take the full lane". That really bugged me--if you need to take the full lane for safety purposes, you can on almost any road. You don't need to wait for sharrows to appear. It really bugged me that a member of their team was giving that advice to new cyclists since it very clearly implied you weren't supposed to take the lane unless there were sharrows.

    Also, DC govt has a whole FAQ about sharrows!

  2. #22
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    I've always found the similarity between the sharrow symbol and the speed hump symbol to be vaguely disconcerting.

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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    If the bike lane is ending, it's usually because either the road is getting too narrow for a bike lane, or there's some kind of complicated conflict point up ahead and they couldn't figure out a reasonable place to put the lines. In either case, I don't understand why you'd advocate for cyclists to take a less visible position, or one which would encourage drivers to pass in-lane where there isn't enough room to do so safely.
    Yeah, that's certainly not my intention, but I'm not really sure I had a very coherent intention. :-) Clearly, I'm not familiar with the streets in question; the idea of changing course suddenly because bike lane ends sounds unsafe/unpredictable to me, but obviously if the only alternative is riding off the road, then it's what one has to do. Hopefully carefully and with some looking behind you for the cars in the lane.

    I think the other part I was suggesting was that the center of the lane doesn't always feel safer to me. E.g. you're going to cause an accident (or be the victim of a rage-driven accident) if you take the lane on Georgetown Pike.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    the idea of changing course suddenly because bike lane ends sounds unsafe/unpredictable to me, but obviously if the only alternative is riding off the road, then it's what one has to do. Hopefully carefully and with some looking behind you for the cars in the lane.
    Definitely shouldn't wait for the bike lane to end before changing lanes. And always look, signal the lane change, and look again before changing lanes.

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  6. #25
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    Virginia Code: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/...ection46.2-905

    Any person operating a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following circumstances:

    1. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

    2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;

    3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right curb or edge;

    4. When avoiding riding in a lane that must turn or diverge to the right; and

    5. When riding upon a one-way road or highway, a person may also ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as safely practicable.

    For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane too narrow for a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or foot-scooter, or moped and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane.
    Note, this only applies when the bike is traveling faster than the normal speed of traffic at the time, and not if the lane width is substandard. Since cars are at least 6' wide, 3' is required to pass, a bike is at least 2' wide and no one is expected to ride closer than 1' from the curb, a lane would need to be more than 12' wide to not be "substandard". There are not many of those lanes in Arlington.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    As noted, the sharrows in theory have multiple uses. To remind drivers to expect cyclists, to remind cyclists of their right to ride (like a bikes may take full lane sign) to tell riders where in the road to ride (IE not in the gutter or the door zone, but, in center of the lane which is where sharrows are usually placed these days, and so the ones on King Street are) and to tell drivers where to look for cyclists (ahead of them, and not off in the gutter)

    To the extent that riders ignore sharrows in deciding where to ride, and ride on the gutter pan even though the sharrows is in center of the lane, the sharrows has certainly failed in one of its purposes, and arguably is problematic in telling drivers where in the road to expect riders.
    There have been some instances where the placement of sharrows was a failure. Here is an example in Alexandria.

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    I also recall the initial sharrow installation on Walter Reed just south of King Street placed the sharrows quite close to the curb.

  8. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    Definitely shouldn't wait for the bike lane to end before changing lanes. And always look, signal the lane change, and look again before changing lanes.
    Yup, and I think this adds to the point that WABA classes, and/or modeling by "good" experienced riders, is a better way to teachg the transition than painting a sharrows (BTW, speaking of errors, is there any way to undo a dislike caused by a twitchy finger?)

  9. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaseyKane50 View Post
    There have been some instances where the placement of sharrows was a failure. Here is an example in Alexandria.

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    I also recall the initial sharrow installation on Walter Reed just south of King Street placed the sharrows quite close to the curb.

    There are sharrows on Valley in the parking lane, that I see pretty frequently and that my wife and I soemtimes park on or just in front of or behind. I think maybe placing some kind of ramp to let people ride over our car would be the right thing to do, eh?

  10. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaseyKane50 View Post
    There have been some instances where the placement of sharrows was a failure. Here is an example in Alexandria.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I also recall the initial sharrow installation on Walter Reed just south of King Street placed the sharrows quite close to the curb.
    The local jurisdictions have generally gotten better at sharrows than they were when they first started painting them. I think in some instances, local advocates had to point out the "positioning" point in the MUTCD.

  11. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    Yeah, that's certainly not my intention, but I'm not really sure I had a very coherent intention. :-) Clearly, I'm not familiar with the streets in question; the idea of changing course suddenly because bike lane ends sounds unsafe/unpredictable to me, but obviously if the only alternative is riding off the road, then it's what one has to do. Hopefully carefully and with some looking behind you for the cars in the lane.
    There generally shouldn't be an abrupt change in direction; there should be a transition space with a dotted line indicating that the bike lane is ending and encouraging the cyclist to prepare to merge back into traffic.

    I think the other part I was suggesting was that the center of the lane doesn't always feel safer to me. E.g. you're going to cause an accident (or be the victim of a rage-driven accident) if you take the lane on Georgetown Pike.
    Says more about the need for autonomous vehicles more than anything about pavement markings. :-( I personally wouldn't put sharrows on georgetown pike because the speeds are too high; the federal guidance is to not mark roads above 35MPH, and (regardless of what the pike is signed as) the traffic is generally well above 35MPH in my experience. I don't think that it's a good road for a cyclist who needs positioning guidance or encouragement.

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