Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Sharrows, sharrows everywhere! (And many more to come)

Posted by on June 9th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

A family rides by new sharrow markings recently installed in N. Concord Avenue.
(Photos © J Maus)

I’ve been hearing from a lot of you about sharrows popping up on streets throughout the city of late. Up on the Alameda, all over North Portland, down on SE Clay Street — it seems like PBOT is putting them in all over the place. And the truth is, they are!

The new markings are much larger
than the old bike boulevard “dots”.

As I reported back in April, PBOT got a federal stimulus grant to pay for the markings along bicycle boulevard routes. I followed up yesterday with PBOT project manager Kyle Chisek for an update on the installations.

Chisek says that by next week, PBOT will have 656 sharrows on the ground and they’ve got 1,500 more to go. In total they’ll lay down 2,100 sharrows. Chisek says rain has hampered installation a bit, but as dryer weather comes, crews will make up for all the rainy days.

Streets they’ve completed installation on include:

  • SE Spokane, Umatilla, and 19th in Sellwood;
  • N Central, Wabash, Bryant, Concord, and Williams (north end) in North Portland;
  • and NE Holman and Klickitat in Northeast Portland.

Sharrows on Concord as
far as they eyes can see.

Still to come and in progress are:

  • NE Klickitat (remaining), Alameda, Going, and Tillamook/Hancock in Northeast;
  • SE Ankeny, Salmon/Taylor, Lincoln/Harrison, Clinton, Ladd, Center/Gladstone, and Mill in Southeast;
  • NW 24th, Raleigh, Overton, Johnson and Flanders in Northwest.
  • SW Westwood, Cheltenham in Southwest. (*These streets added after post was originally published)

“Summer should be pretty busy,” says Chisek.

Have you come across some of these new sharrows? What do you think about them? I think they’re great. They send a clear signal to other road users that they should expect bikes and they help reinforce the idea that bikes belong and have a legal right to take the lane.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

57 thoughts on “Sharrows, sharrows everywhere! (And many more to come)”

  1. Avatar OnTheRoad says:

    Several motorists I’ve talked to don’t know what sharrows mean to drivers. There was confusion that maybe they had driven onto some kind of bike-only street.

  2. Avatar jeghan says:

    I think they’re great. As a driver, I always find it helpful when there are cues as to what to look out for. Just helps make the street scanning more productive!

  3. Avatar Jim Lee says:

    Looks like my old SAAB 99 to the right.

    Maybe someone fixed the pinhole leak in the cylinder head.

  4. Avatar thefuture says:

    I rode over one thinking they’d give me a power boost like in RC Pro Am, but it didn’t work. Maybe they’re not hooked up yet?

  5. Avatar Nick says:

    I saw what seemed to be new ones on N Fenwick. Then again, I don’t ride on it much so maybe they’ve been there.

  6. The sharrows on Klickitat are right in the middle of the street, and seem to be directional, suggesting a) one-way bike traffic and b) bike-traffic only.

    I love the idea, but I agree that the implementation is confusing to drivers, and possibly to bike-riders.

  7. Avatar Bill says:

    100% Sharrows Free in Southwest! Thanks Portland!

  8. Avatar Jacob says:

    LoL@ theFuture (and I actually did laugh out loud) 🙂

  9. Avatar trail user says:

    Finally we catch up to Seattle!

  10. Avatar Cemetery Rider says:

    The ones in Sellwood are great. As a driver it’s a very good reminder that you’re on a route that may be frequented by cyclists.

  11. Avatar Marcus Griffith says:

    When fully operaation sharrrows will become Mario-Kart style speed boosters. I can’t wait until funding for the power up boxes is secured. Lauhg, but you know you want an invincibility star or even a few red shells to lob at Bowser controlled SUVs..

  12. Avatar Smash says:

    I love the new sharrows! They’re so good looking and bicycle encouraging!

  13. Avatar pixiestyx says:

    Hmm…no “sharrows” in SW. Where we really need ’em. Figures.

  14. Avatar Laura says:

    Can the City cut a deal with Multnomah County to put them on the bridge deck of the Sellwood? I’m tired of having drivers honk (and worse) when I take the lane on the bridge.

  15. Avatar 9watts says:

    I’m still holding out for the ones with the arrows above the car symbol. You know, sending a clear signal to other road users that they should expect cars and they help reinforce the idea that cars belong and (still)have a legal right to take the lane.

    Maybe not tomorrow or next year, but in my lifetime.

  16. Avatar are says:

    re comment 6. it is certainly true that the sharrows on klickitat are placed in the center of the road, and westbound actually to the left of center in some cases. and actually, i have a bit of a quarrel with using these on bike boulevards _at all_.

    according to kyle chesik, these are being used as wayfinders under an ODOT grant of $1 million in stimulus funds, for which PBoT’s prospectus specified ASHTO compliant signage:

    as i have often said on these boards and elsewhere, i would rather see sharrows just about everywhere we now have striped bike lanes. but actually i do not want to see sharrows on low traffic, low speed, “calmed” bike boulevards.

    the function of a sharrow, as stated in section 9C.07 of the current MUTCD manual (which treats these as permitted, optional treatments), is primarily to encourage cyclists to ride to the left of the door zone and secondarily to alert motorists that cyclists are likely to be out in the lane.

    the MUTCD does state that these “should not” be used on roads where the speed limit is above 35 mph, but i think the inference is reasonably clear that they are not intended to be used in environments where there are practically no cars moving at any appreciable speed at all. certainly they are not intended to be used as wayfinders.

    similarly, though the MUTCD says these should be placed “at least 11 feet” from the curb where there is onstreet parking, i cannot imagine that they meant on or even beyond the center line.

    my concern is that if these are strewn about in environments where they are not necessary, and if they are placed inappropriately, their usefulness for the intended purposes of lane positioning and alerting motorists to share the travel lane will be diluted.

  17. Avatar are says:

    i guess what i mean to say is, why blow your sharrows money on bike boulevards when you could put them on 28th, 21st, 12th, couch, hawthorne, division, etc.

  18. The ones on NE Klickitat/Siskiyou were so compelling, I rode down that street instead of Knott on my way to work yesterday and the day before.

    I switched back to NE Knott today. For me it’s faster with only one stop sign and only one signal in that length. The Kickitat route between 7th and 21st is so fraught with stop signs I wouldn’t know I would ever want to ride it unless they I was completely fearful of vehicular traffic (I’m not) and were I was no hurry to get anywhere (I’m no scofflaw – well, sometimes if there isn’t anyone there to see).

    Still, I really appreciate that they’re there. Much better than the old dots.

  19. Avatar driving that train says:

    Why are they in the middle of the street? (same concern as Anne #6). The goal of a sharrow is to indicate where bikes should be traveling. Yes, out of the door zone, but not in the center of the street. And are they all pointing the same direction? That is confusing.

  20. Are, your comment came in while I was writing. Spot on you are I think.

  21. Avatar driving that train says:

    Thanks, are #16. That clears up the placement issue. Why is it that our traffic engineers don’t understand these basic concepts? Does Mr. Chisek even ride a bike for transportation? And I also agree that we need sharrows on the busy streets, not the calm ones.

  22. Avatar Vancouver Bob says:

    The center placement might make it easy for drivers to see (which is the point?)

    Speed boost arrow would be great for hills.

  23. Avatar are says:

    re comment 18, they will be turning most of the stop signs soon, but knott will still be faster. depending on where i am going and how quickly i want to get there, i have been using klickitat since before kyle chesik ever heard of it, but if i am going downtown and i want to book it, knott is excellent (and i hope they don’t screw it up with bike lanes, ever).

    re comment 19, no, there is one sharrow at the start of each block, pointing in. a couple hundred feet away, at the other end of the block, there is another one pointing back at you. it does look a little weird, but i would have to say that if we were talking only about wayfinding, and if the sharrow did not have another intended use with which this use conflicts, the visibility of the marking is quite impressive.

  24. Avatar Lewis says:

    Respectfully, I strongly disagree with the comments that sharrows are inappropriate on designated neighborhood greenways (formerly known as bike boulevards) or on calmer streets more generally.

    Now that the City has increased and improved the size of sharrows, they provide an unambiguous guide that bikes belong and that non-cyclists, particularly motorists, should anticipate the presence of bikes. Alerting motorists (in particular) to the potential presence of bicyclists is only a a good thing.

    Extrapolating to the most bike-friendly country on Earth, the Netherlands, the Dutch have made a conscious decision to make virtually every inch of their vast bikeway network unambiguously clear for all ROW users with the universal adoption of maroon as “the bikeway color.”

    The fundamental challenge in getting more people out of cars and on to bikes is the perception of safety. Anything that sends a message that bikes are present helps in this regard.

  25. Avatar suburban says:

    These are GREAT for teaching children or other new riders about expensive, bad ideas.

    How easily this federal money was granted and wasted on street stickers.
    Stickers. Embarrassing to see as a cyclist, and unworthy work for our city’s skilled crews.


  26. Avatar Tonya says:

    Love them! So helpful both as wayfinding and reminding users to share. Thank you PBOT!!!

  27. Avatar Mike says:

    What’s the point really, doesn’t the presence of a real live cyclist prove enough to take caution. Seems like a waste of money. If it is a road, assume there will be cyclist present.

  28. Avatar chad says:

    I like ’em.

    I s’pose anyone could take issue with minor “imperfections”, but I think they’re simple, effective, educational, and inspiring to those who have yet to get on their bike and out of their car.

    I like to think of it as an many, many, mile long sign that say’s “Go By Bike”.

  29. Avatar Adam says:

    I LOVE sharrows!

    I’d love to see the sharrows on SW Alder heading downtown repainted. You can’t see them anymore. I was riding down that street today, and got buzzed by a BMW driver who clearly thought I shouldn’t have been on the road.

    Sharrows would have helped a lot in this situation. Who to call to get them repainted?? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  30. Avatar Jeff says:

    Ok, listen up. Sharrows don’t mean shit. Really…. I mean, symbolically they give you some kind of BS warm fuzzy. But to drivers? Nada. It reads to most drivers as “you’re gonna see some bikes in the lane, like normal, so no biggy really, same as always.” Don’t place too much importance on them.

  31. Avatar esther says:

    i love them. i think they shout out loud and clear “expect bikes. share the road”

    when they first popped up in my neighborhood my husband and i could only think “how nice of the city to mark our route home from the new lucky lab.”

  32. Avatar Perry says:

    Adding lamentation to the repeated stiffing of SW Portland…anybody agree that these might help on SW Taylors Ferry between the 5 and Terwilliger?

    C’mon, Sam! Are you not getting the envelopes of cash I’ve been handing off to Dan??

  33. Avatar Red Five says:

    I saw a cyclist slip and crash on these markings while waving their tire pump at a passing car.

  34. Avatar Mickey says:

    @30 Jeff, one of the biggest barriers keeping many of our car-only neighbors from riding a bike is the perception that riding in traffic isn’t safe. I think sharrows serve to encourage new riders to take to the roads. Wouldn’t you feel safer seeing one on your first bike ride in 20 years? And I don’t think that feeling safer on these roads is an illusion. The sharrows are very visible from my driver’s seat. I am placing a huge importance on sharrows: it’s a step closer to 25% ridership in Portland.

  35. Avatar Michweek says:

    Oddly enough Two friends and I (all wearing our lights and all but one with helmet) were yelled at the other night on Mississippi heading north to the Interstate New Season’s by a “fellow biker” for taking up the road. She “didn’t want to hit us”. We were all so stunned! When I finally could wrap my tongue around it she had taken off. Apparently fellow bikers in cars don’t think we have a legal right to the rode… ? I also don’t see how anyone could hit three well lit riders, I mean flashing lights blind your eyes lit. I don’t mess around with safety.

  36. Avatar Mike Myers says:

    Sharrows are some of my favorite things. Right behind double stuff oreos. I’m thrilled they’re getting them nice and centered in the lanes. Thanks to those who made this possible!

  37. Avatar jim says:

    Federal money- thats just great, now my child and future grandchildren will have to pay for this. You do realize that this money is borrowed from China- right?
    Who is going to pay to repaint these when they are worn off? There wont be more federal money to do that. The country is broke and they are spending money like mad with no acountabillity. Move over Greece- here we come.

  38. Avatar Spiffy says:

    these are way better than the old little circles you can barely see…

    I use them as way-finders, and these ones will be much easier to spot as I pass a side road…

    usually if I find myself on a greenway in a car I get off and onto another street if I’m going more than just a few blocks… as much as I like driving on a quiet street I’d rather let the bike riders have it…

    and I do think the sharrows are incredibly helpful to the new riders… I’m sure that’s why they want to get them painted now before the awesome weather so that new riders can get an early start…

  39. Avatar Schrauf says:

    The sharrows are in the center on narrow roads where they are actually being used to designate both directions of travel. The road is too narrow (and it is a waste of time and material) to put sharrows side by side facing each direction.

    I like them, but if they become too prevalent, I fret people who drive will become more annoyed and aggressive when they encounter bikes on routes WITHOUT sharrows. “There are no sharrows on this road – move the hell over!”

  40. Avatar spencer says:

    I agree with the Sellwood Bridge needing them. If we cant get the city to do it, maybe the guerrilla cross-walkers could.

  41. Avatar Lenny Anderson says:

    NE Knott Street is a good example of a regular street, popular with bicyclists, that should receive the Sharrow markings. NE 28th is another example of where these should be placed.
    Bikeways, aka “bike boulevards” deserve a stronger statement that the route is PRIMARILY a bicycle facility on which motor vehicles are welcome IF they travel at bicycle speeds, yield to bicyclists, etc. A true “bike boulevard” would have few if any motor vehicles with diverters every 10 blocks or so to stop cut thru motor vehicle traffic. Portland has only a handful of such diverters.
    All that said, the Sharrows are a step up from the timid little “bit dots” from a few years ago.

  42. Avatar boriskat says:

    So I live in NoPo, and ride on this road where the pics were taken. HOWEVER, I also almost got t-boned at one of the intersections where there are zero stop signs. I think I would have preferred to get some of those put up rather than sharrows painted, if I were given the choice. It’s great to have sharrows (and speed bumps) where I’m currently traveling, but if there is no traffic control on the side streets, then what’s to prevent me from getting hit?

  43. …then what’s to prevent me from getting hit?

    your eyes, your brain, your fingers clutching your brakes, etc…

    PBOT cannot make our streets perfectly safe. a bit of individual responsibility will always be necessary.

  44. Avatar Ely says:

    Love the new sharrows in NoPo. They are so big, even my husband notices them! 😀 I do think people are driving more calmly and giving me more space on Central than they have previously.

  45. Avatar Joe says:

    I don’t really get these at all in Irvington. All streets in that area are created equal. Sure these streets on a map/in a report a bike streets, but they all act the same. I wind my way down any old street and I get there. They are low traffic.

    How about sharrows on Knott? Prescott?

    I’m for stimulus money being used in wise ways, but 5 years down the road these will be faded reminders of a waste of $$.

  46. Avatar mac says:

    If given the choice between filling the longitudinal cracks, potholes, and divots in the road in my neighborhood or having sharrows I would have gone with crack filling.

    Thankfully PBOT chose to paint sharrows on the road rather than waste precious funds on repairs of the roads themselves (or god forbid, signage at uncontrolled intersections).

    I enjoy the comfort of knowing, as I ride my daily obstacle course, that the PBOT is taking the necessary steps to ensure I maintain long term mental acuity playing by dodge ’em with terrain features and racing autos.

  47. Avatar jim says:

    Speed bumps on Concord was a waste of money. It is a little traveled road by cars, cars move onto wider streets asap. It is so narrow that nobody speeds on it like they do on the arterials.
    Stupid decision by portland.
    Boriscat #43 had a better idea, If Concord is to become a through arterial it should have traffic controls on those intersections with no stopsigns. The intersection at Alberta and Concord should become a 4 way stop. That is where the accidents are going to happen.

  48. Avatar Monica says:

    It’s a nice idea, but the new sharrows on N. Bryant (between Greeley and Willamette) are right in the middle of the road–which is the only place one can safely ride because of the huge potholes on the sides. I learned from a recent Oregonian article that, since this section of Bryant does not have sidewalks or other “improvements”, the City is not responsible for maintaining it. However, this creates a dicey situation when I bike my daughter to her elementary school–sharrows or no.

  49. Avatar trail user says:

    corporal bicycle

  50. Avatar chad says:

    speaking of N Bryant…who know’s what up with N (and NE Bryant) EAST of I-5?

    Wondering if PBOT has something bigger in the works than just sharrows (repaving, stop sign reassignment, etc) as it is currently the roughest and most stop sign unfriendly bicycle blvd. I’ve ridden in N and NE PDX.

    I’ve found N Morgan (one block north) to be a far superior east-west route from MLK to the Bryant Street Bridge.

  51. Avatar RC says:

    I’m pleased to see PBOT (and yes,taxpayer funds) going toward a common sense safety feature like sharrows. Of course they aren’t perfect but the reality is cycling can be dangerous. Sharrows help make those roads a little less dangerous. They alert drivers to the presence of cyclists and riders to bike routes. The money spent on sharrows is not outrageous when we are talking about preventing serious injury or fatalities suffered by cyclists. If user safety was the paramount metric used to determine transportation funding we would have more sharrows and the like, not fewer. These features help make cycling just a little easier for children, older folks and new riders who otherwise might be apprehensive about the very real risks of cycling. I think the cost is more than worth it.

  52. Avatar bahueh says:

    boriskat…are you freaking serious? try paying attention, slowing down at intersections, taking the buds out of your ears, listening for cars, anticipating the worst…sharrows are paint on asphalt, folks, they are not a license to turn your brain off.

  53. Avatar bikieboy says:

    are (#16) – i agree with you entirely. While they certainly work as wayfinders, it really dilutes their intended lane-positioning purpose.

  54. Avatar AdamG says:

    are (#16): “I guess what i mean to say is, why blow your sharrows money on bike boulevards when you could put them on 28th, 21st, 12th, couch, hawthorne, division, etc.”
    Yeah! and NW 23rd, and NE Williams, MLK, Division
    That’s where sharrows belong in my mind, after reading the results of that S.F. study years ago, (haven’t read the latest MUTCD though).
    What’s up with positioning cyclists heading in both directions in the same position in the center of the road?

  55. Avatar RTFM says:

    Boriskat (#43), a few tips on uncontrolled intersections… and you’re not the only one out there who needs a refresher:

    – Uncontrolled intersections (no stop signs/lights) are yield-controlled by default
    – Yield to vehicles that are already in the intersection before proceeding
    – If multiple vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way
    – Normal rules of the road apply (left-turning vehicles yield to those going straight, etc)

    If everyone just remembered this and slowed down to check for cross-traffic before entering the intersection, we’d all be fine. It’s everyone’s responsibility. Yield, look, go…

  56. Avatar jim says:

    The sharrows in the middle of a skinny street pointing one way and then the opposite shows how retarded this whole thing is

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *