Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sharrows & Bike Lanes in IC

Johnson County residents and bicycling enthusiasts are invited to join Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey on Thursday, July 2nd at 5:15 p.m. in College Green Park to see the most recent improvements to the local bicycle network – shared lane arrows, or “sharrows.

In an effort to become more bicycle-friendly, some Johnson County communities are installing new sharrow pavement markings and bike lanes on streets this summer. The sharrows, which are an alternative to bike lanes, can be found on 5th Street in Coralville, and on Market, Jefferson, and College Streets in Iowa City, beginning this week. Bike lanes will be painted on segments of Market and Jefferson Streets.

A sharrow does not demarcate a separate bicycle lane, but it does direct the bicyclist to travel in the proper lane position to avoid being hit by opening doors of parked cars. The sharrow markings also remind roadway users where the travel lane is too narrow to be safely shared side-by-side by cyclists and passing motorists.

Many cyclists know that when there is no bike lane present, cyclists are expected to ride on the right. Some sharrows and bike lanes, however, are located in the left lane. Why? In a word, safety:

  1. Bicycle lanes and sharrows on the left side of some one-way streets are gaining popularity to help reduce the number of bicyclists being struck by opening car doors;
  2. This location removes bicyclists from the path of buses pulling into bus stops;
  3. The left curb lane is most clear of snow on streets where vehicles park along the right curb; and
  4. The design helps increase visibility, as the rear-right blind spot is eliminated and drivers can more easily see a bicyclist in the driver’s side mirror.

For more information on sharrows and bike lanes or other improvements to the local bicycling network, contact Kristopher Ackerson, JCCOG Assistant Transportation Planner, at 319.356.5247.

*All content above reposted from JCCOG press release vis Kris Ackerson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The four points that the County came up with to justify these marks are so ridicilous, that I get the impression that they had some leftover paint and made some marks on portions of the streets least used by motor vehicles, trying to get bicycles out of the way. This is an ill-advised attempt to appear bicycle-friendly, without making any real improvements. These marks are not an improvement at all. They are a safety hazard. I ride the streets of this town every day and I advise everyone who may be new to this practice to completely ignore these marks. On Jefferson and Market, which are two lane streets, ride the right lane such that motor vehicles cannot pass you without moving to the left lane. On College, which is a one-lane street, ride the right side of the right lane maintaining enough of a distance from parked cars so you wouldn't be hit, if someone were to open a door. Don't get any closer to the curb, if there is a portion where there are no parked cars, but maintain the same relative position. If a bus stops in front of you, stop behind it and wait until it moves, then move with it. What's the big deal? There is always trash, debris, manhole covers, storm sewer inlets and whatnot close to the curb on either side, as well as ice, snow, puddles, leaves, branches, sand, etc. The only regularly maintained part of the street is the part that cars use, so make sure to use that part as well. Drivers pay attention to those parts of the streets used by other drivers, so if you ride there, you are very likely to be seen. A motorist is much more likely to drive into you from the side, because he doesn't see you, than he is to hit you deliberately from behind. If you are inbetween cars, you will be safe, because the one in front of you will see you in his rearview mirror and the one behind you will see you directly. Only make sure that you have good lights and reflectors at night and wear brightly colored clothes.

One thing the City has accomplished with these marks is to validate the notion of some motorists that bicycles do not belong on the streets unless there is a portion thereof specifically assigned to them, which is the exact opposite of what the City needs to do. The City needs to get out the message that the streets, as they are, are legally open to bicycles and that bicyclists have the right to use them to travel at speeds appropriate for their vehicles and without apologies.

Finally, I would love to see Ms Bailey to try and make a right turn on her bicycle onto, say van Buren, cutting through two lanes of motor traffic racing down Jefferson.