BikePGH!

Do sharrows work?

This topic contains 21 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  Ahlir 1 yr, 5 mos.

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ericf

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Jun 4 2013 at 4:35am #

I am wondering what effect sharrows have on our local roads, do they make the marked street(s) any safer, or are they just a way for politicians to artificially bolster their perceived pro-cycling image?


jonawebb

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Jun 4 2013 at 7:55am #

I’ve never noticed any effect on motorist behavior. They may help new cyclists find recommended roads.


rsprake

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Jun 4 2013 at 8:02am #

I think they set expectations and create a network.


J Z

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Jun 4 2013 at 8:18am #

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/pedbike/10044/index.cfm


Benzo

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Jun 4 2013 at 8:29am #

I bet they work way better when they are not put in the parking lane like on millvale ave and brighton rd.


erok

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Jun 4 2013 at 9:05am #

depends on how you define “work.”

Do they work for wayfinding, to help direct cyclists onto a better street? yep

Do they work to help connect bike infrastructure on streets that are too narrow, or where there is no political will or money to remove existing lane markings and parking? yep.

Do they work when you have a downhill bike route, where it may be more dangerous to have a bike lane and you’d be travelling faster than a car anyway? yep

Do they work when they are the easiest and least intrusive way to put in bike infrastructure? meh. maybe sometimes, but usually not really.

I don’t like them as the “main” connection (Penn Ave in the Strip, Butler in Larryville, E Carson, etc), but they’ve been really useful on our narrow ass back streets. I also give them some credit for helping establish Liberty Ave in Bloomfield as a bike route and now legit bike lanes. When the sharrows went in in 2007, there was a public meeting, and people proclaiming that the world might end if we encourage cyclists on Liberty. Several years later, the world didn’t end, Liberty is much nicer, and actual bike lanes were installed.

I think they can definitely be a cop out at times, but they are also a useful tool to accomplish our goals. one thing i’ve needed to learn is that nothing that’s put down is permanent, and everything is a work in progress, that can be improved upon over time as the public accepts change and as the city is able to find more money to put into engineering.

So to answer your original question, yes, many times this is true, and we need to be aware of those situations and not to claim victory (too loudly). But similar to things like a traffic circle, for instance, they shouldn’t be used as a primary traffic control device, but do work well for specific situations, or at times when you need to compromise.


Benzo

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Jun 4 2013 at 10:27am #

+1 what erok said.


ericf

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Jun 4 2013 at 5:25pm #

@ JZ
Thank you for the link. The three studies all showed some positive results. One finding that interested me was that sharrow installation reduced riding on sidewalks.

@ erok
You make a lot of good points. It seems they can be effective and make things safer, at least in certain areas. A recent trip down Butler St. is what spurred my question, it is a confusing mess for cyclists and drivers alike. That said, the Ellsworth Ave sharrows are a good example of how it can be done well.


erok

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Jun 4 2013 at 9:24pm #

agreed. i kinda hate the butler sharrows. I avoid riding on butler as much as possible.


dmtroyer

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Jun 6 2013 at 9:09pm #

I often lament how much I dislike riding on butler.


pbeaves

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Jun 6 2013 at 9:23pm #

i think they are all broken,
every time i ride over one, I never get the speed boost like i always do in Mario Cart.
:(


scott

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Jun 7 2013 at 6:46am #

Butler is a complete street. It completely sucks no matter what mode of transportation you’re using.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Jun 7 2013 at 8:06am #

Would sharrows be appropriate/effective on Freeport Road from the Highland Park Bridge to Fox Chapel Road?

That section is being paved this summer, and I’ve been trying to get with PennDot to see if we could get bike lanes or sharrows painted when they’re done (although I fear we’re a little late to the process at this point…).

So should we be pursuing sharrows or lanes?


buffalo buffalo

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Jun 7 2013 at 10:37am #

ALMKLM,

My recollection is that that section of Freeport is pretty narrow, yeah? Unless you’ve got room for full, proper bike lanes, preferably with physical separation,* I’d say just do sharrows.

For me personally, I’d rather have sharrows and be in the middle of the lane than be off on the shoulder and have drivers trying to squeeze past me. Many seem to think the white line is some kind of magic barrier; I’ve been passed even more closely in the lanes on Liberty than in regular traffic, and there are bike lanes in the city that I refuse to use at all, because the combination isn’t big enough for me to trust cars to be able to pass. Friendship Ave at the park, particularly eastbound, is a prime example–not only is the bike lane only a couple feet wide, the main lane is also narrowed, and I routinely see cars with a wheel (or more) over the line into the bike lane. Including the big red SUV this morning who only moments before had been screaming at me for not being in the bike lane.

* i realize the physical separation part might not be feasible, esp. given that it’s a state road, but…


StuInMcCandless

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Jun 7 2013 at 1:10pm #

Doing that there is no different from doing it on West Carson, which is also a state road. What’s the posted speed limit along there?


Mick

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Jun 7 2013 at 1:16pm #

Hmmm…
There’s a segment of Fifth ave (between the Birmingham bridge and Gist St) that I travel every day. There’s been a few times I’ve been told to get off the road in this little section.

It would be great to have a sharrow around I could point to, if the sharrow didn’t stop the “Get-off-the-road” shouts all by itself.


jamesk

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Jun 10 2013 at 5:52am #

A non-cyclist friend of mine told me a couple of years ago that she thought that cyclists were only allowed on roads with bike lanes or sharrows. Obviously I corrected this… but it’s probably a pretty widely-held misconception.


Eric

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Jun 10 2013 at 1:51pm #

I’m glad the sharrows made some tri-guy confident enough to ride down Butler in a full-aero tuck last night. He didn’t look sketchy at all.


Benzo

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Jun 11 2013 at 8:04am #

jamesk wrote:A non-cyclist friend of mine told me a couple of years ago that she thought that cyclists were only allowed on roads with bike lanes or sharrows. Obviously I corrected this… but it’s probably a pretty widely-held misconception.

This is why bike related questions need to be on drivers tests and why we need to retest existing license holders. Have as many free practice tests you want available online. Take a test every time you get a new ID (likely going to be every 6 years).


erok

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Jun 11 2013 at 12:32pm #

it’s amazing, no matter how many new laws are created, the only thing that you need to verify when renewing is your address.


JustRay

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Jun 11 2013 at 12:55pm #

pbeaves wrote:i think they are all broken,
every time i ride over one, I never get the speed boost like i always do in Mario Cart.
:(

pbeaves, You obviously don’t have enough coins or turtles or something. #Yoshi’d


Ahlir

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Jun 13 2013 at 11:19am #

Then again…

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