Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 9th, 2012 at 8:45 am
Back in February, we reported that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) was considering a slate of changes to the St. Johns Bridge with an eye toward making bicycle travel safer and more pleasant. Now those plans have been confirmed.
In what they're calling their "St. Johns Bridge Safety Awareness Project," ODOT will lay down 16 sharrows (8 in each direction) along the two outer lanes of the bridge and they will "improve signage on the bridge span indicating to all users that the bridge span is a shared road facility."
Residents around the bridge were sent a postcard earlier this month that described the reasons for the project and some specifics. The mailer explained the new pavement markings:
What is a Bike Sharrow?
Bike sharrows are pavement markings with a bicycle symbol and arrows indicating to all users that the roadway is a transportation facility shared by motorists and bicyclists alike. Adding sharrows and signage will help increase awareness that the St. Johns Bridge is a shared facility. Both motorists and bicyclists have the right to use the travel lanes. Bicyclists may also choose to use the sidewalk. A picture is provided below for your reference.
And, what are the expected benefits of this project?
"The new signage and pavement markings will encourage motorists to be aware that the bridge and roadway is a shared facility and that bicyclists may opt to travel on the roadway. ODOT’s hope is that increased visibility and awareness will increase safety for all users."
ODOT says they're doing this project now because "previously sharrows were not an allowed traffic control device [in the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devicess]." In reality, sharrows have been allowed in the MUTCD since 2009, so it's much more likely that ODOT is doing this project now because of a high profile collision back in February that left a man who was bicycling on the bridge with a serious injury. (NOTE: As pointed out in a comment below, ODOT didn't adopt the new version of the MUTCD (with the sharrows in it) until 2011.)
The project is expected to be completed before the end of May.