Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 14th, 2010 at 12:55 pm
(Photos © J. Maus)
Ever since City of Portland Bike Coordinator Roger Geller first publicly mentioned a downtown sharrow project, many of you have expressed interest in learning more about it. So, here you go.
In June of 2008, on behalf of the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), Geller submitted a grant application to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT, through their Bike and Ped grant program) for what he calls the Downtown Sharrows Project.
The $384,000 project (PBOT asked ODOT for all but $19,500 of it) would have installed 1,200 sharrows on 17 miles of streets in Portland's downtown core. The sharrows would have been placed every 100 feet on every lane in every direction of selected streets.
According to the grant application written by Geller, the project would "blanket" downtown with sharrows and the markings would "communicate to motorists they should expect cyclists to be ubiquitous throughout our downtown and that they are intended and welcome users of the downtown travel lanes."
The reasoning behind this project was that PBOT often hears that people on bicycles feel "abandoned" when riding downtown due to a lack of developed bikeways.
"This treatment will communicate to motorists they should expect cyclists to be ubiquitous throughout our downtown and that they are intended and welcome users of the downtown travel lanes."
-- From PBOT's grant application
For more experienced riders, taking the lane downtown is easy and preferred, since vehicle speeds are an easily bikable 12-16 mph. But for others, the heavy traffic environment is not welcoming. In addition to communicating to people driving cars that bikes are expected and allowed in the lane, sharrows also help guide less experienced riders to a safer position on the roadway (i.e. not too close to the door zone).
Or, as Geller puts it in the proposal,
"The shared lane markings will also help cyclists position themselves where they are most safe in such a low-speed environment: in the middle of the travel lanes rather than off to the far right or left sides of the roadway where they are susceptible to riding into an opened car door."
In the end, Geller and PBOT feel the sharrow project will hasten a "self-reinforcing behavior change" -- more people riding in the lanes and others realizing it's legal to do so -- that would result in more respect and sharing between all road users.
it clear that bikes can (and should)
be in the lane.
Unfortunately, the ODOT committee that doles out the grants, the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, was divided on the project and did not choose to award the grant.
Geller still likes the project and plans to keep looking for money to fund it.
What do you think? Have you ridden on sharrows? In Portland, there are several installed on NW 19th and they're popping up all over the country (San Francisco has many in their downtown core, as does Seattle). Would this Downtown Sharrows Project get your funding vote?Email This Post Possibly related posts