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More creative sharrow markings spotted in North Portland

Posted by on October 7th, 2010 at 10:10 am

This “sharrow flower” (for lack of a better name) is at N. Concord and Bryant. My bike is in the photo for context.
(Photos © J. Maus)

In our discussion about sharrows (shared-lane markings) last week, I pointed out how PBOT was getting creative in using them as bike boulevard and wayfinding markings. On some bike boulevards with off-set intersections, PBOT is installing what I call “broken” sharrows — that is, a sharrow with the chevrons tilted to show the direction of the route.

creative sharrow marking in nopo-4

The other day I came across yet another innovative sharrow marking. The “sharrow flower” (anyone got a better name?) above is installed in the middle of N. Concord and N. Bryant streets, where two bike boulevards intersect.

When PBOT was first envisioning its “next generation” of bike boulevards (which they’re building now), they wanted to have a large, easily recognizable bike boulevard marking. As I shared last week, a totally new marking would not be eligible for federal stimulus funding, so they ended up sticking with the federally adopted sharrow. This flower sharrow looks to be a way to stick within the federal guidelines, while being creative and giving the standard marking a bit more flair. I like it. What do you think?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Lance P.
Guest
Lance P.

I like it. I only wish my neighborhood had a sharrow flower. 🙂

Nick
Guest
Nick

Sometimes the simplest solutions are best. This takes an existing, recognizable symbol and makes some brilliantly simple tweaks to make it much more versatile. The sharrow “flower” might even make a cool tattoo or something…

Anne Hawley
Guest

Whee! I love the “here, there, and everywhere” underlying message. “Sharrow flower” seems like a useful name to me.

jim
Guest
jim

I think it is a waste of money

Jim. In an effort to make our comments section more productive, I will ask you to please back up your negative comment with a bit more thought and reasoning. I am not trying to censor disagreement with myself or with PBOT, but I have heard loud and clear from a large number of BikePortland readers that simple negativity is not valuable, inspiring, or productive. I welcome your comments, but please consider adding some solutions/rationale/additional thought to your criticisms.

UPDATE: Some are concerned that I have singled out a negative comment and left positive ones. Please understand that a good comment – positive or negative – includes some reasoning to back it up. I absolutely value negativity and my hope is to improve the impact of comments overall, especially negative ones. Thanks for sticking with me while I try to improve the site for everyone. Jonathan Maus (p.s. If you have feedback about this note, please direct it to me via email and not the comment section. Thanks.)

Malex
Guest
Malex

I think it’s totally sweet.

JAT in Seattle
Guest
JAT in Seattle

I think it’s a Sharrowken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuriken)

suburban
Guest
suburban

If there is a grant for bike route improvement, share arrows at 2 per block, on streets that have accommodated mixed traffic for 100 years- are a wast of bicycle infrastructure money. How about a few of these bike stencils on busier streets where cars may need a heads up?
Remember when the bike lane crews made ‘cute’ cyclists using chopsticks or drinking from bottles? These crews are burning grant money.

noah
Guest
noah

These are dangerous. A tandem or a bike with a trailer could easily have its front wheel over the turbo-boosting front arrows and its back wheel(s) over the slow-you-down back arrows. The frame would be torn asunder.

Roland
Guest
Roland

Given that sharrows have no legal meaning, this expansion of their use into wayfinding actually gives them a bit more purpose. Waste of money? Quite the contrary, it’s a bit of cheap paint. I’d like to see some real expenditure, and an actual bicycle infrastructure. This is what we content ourselves with in the absence thereof. And you have to live in one of America’s most bike-friendly places, even to get this. Baby steps…

Machu Picchu
Guest
Machu Picchu

Pavement marking is a relatively inexpensive way to educate and control traffic. Our city can spend as much of my taxes as they care to experiment with here.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

The sharrow might technically have a stricter legal meaning or intention, but before I read about it the sharrow was a clear indicator that bicycles were welcome on designated streets and reassured me that I was taking a good route on my ride. I like this strategy by the city, and I imagine that in neighborhoods cars are already preferring to detour around sharrowed streets if speed is a concern.

@Suburban: I understand the point of raising awareness on busier (and hence more dangerous) streets, however the current plan of convincing the “curious but cautious,” non-cyclers to ride isn’t served well by telling newbies to ride in high-traffic areas. These sharrows do more good on low-volume side streets than busy thoroughfares.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

awesome! love it! and the name of “sharrow flower” is good too, although sharrowken is hilarious…

looking forward to seeing some of these around SE Bush/101st in my neighborhood…

Leif
Guest

The context for that marking is in the middle of an intersection between two bike boulevards. I commute up Concord and found that a little confusing the first time I came across it – I’m used to the cross traffic having the stop sign. They still do as it turns out. Seems helpful for people going down Bryant who might otherwise be misled by sharrows only indicating Concord as a bike boulevard.

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

love it! It’s really useful too because often i pass right by a bike way intersection and don’t even realize it@

BURR
Guest
BURR

In an effort to make our comments section more productive, I will ask you to please back up your negative comment with a bit more thought and reasoning. I am not trying to censor disagreement with myself or with PBOT, but I have heard loud and clear from a large number of BikePortland readers that simple negativity is not valuable, inspiring, or productive. I welcome your comments, but please consider adding some solutions/rationale/additional thought to your criticisms.

We wouldn’t want negative comments to upset the warm and fuzzy Portland vibe.

:rolleyes:

If you’re not going to allow negative comments you might as well ban all critical thinking as well.

:double rolleyes:

BURR. Are you kidding? Did I say I’m not allowing negative comments? Far from it. I actually want the negative comments to be more effective. Blasting people and ideas without backing them up with some thought really doesn’t do much good. They actually turn people away from the comments… So if you want your negative comments to be seen and read by as many people as possible, my advice is to be thoughtful with your criticisms. I love negative comments, if they are done right. Come to think of it, I have done more to allow negative voices to be heard — including yours! — than anyone else by far. I think it’s hilarious that you would try to criticize me about it. You should be thanking me! Thanks for the comment and I’ll see you around. — Jonathan Maus.

KJ
Guest
KJ

Reminds me of a compass rose.

mello yello
Guest
mello yello

schizarrow

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Like it.
Think the “bike everywhere” feeling could be enhanced by making the bike stencil twice it’s normal size when placed in intersections.

As for the negative comments on negative comments meta-rant. It is very easy to argue:
() on the one hand if everyone would just pull their heads out of their (insert rude bodily region here) and just politely share the road there would be no need for signs or any other expensive and not totally effective traffic control measures.
() On the other hand the government, as a body of the People, is responsible to the people to protect the people from their own stupidity.

I lie some where in the Gray Region on this and almost any other issue.

Universal politeness would be nice but legislating it produces the opposite result; what are we to do? Survival of the fittest/largest/most heavily armed?

So please, negative comments with some actual fix to a problem. Even a flawed suggestion can be modified or combined with other suggestions to make something that works.

Anything other than leaving the thinking part up to the cagers in Salem and DC.

Red Five
Guest
Red Five

Can I have a t-shirt with that logo?

Seriously the problem is they are throwing sharrows logos all over the city and most people (even cyclists) still don’t really understand what they mean.

That being said, maybe Jim isn’t so far off base with these not being money well spent.

TheCowabungaDude
Guest

Right on, man. Like, right on. Also, I’m with JAT…sharrowken.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

How about a pictogram / stickman sign that conveys the message “pull you head outta your rear” or “Wake up and pay attention to your surroundings”.

3-speeder
Guest
3-speeder

I conceptually appreciate the sharrow flower.

That being said, I am a bit concerned about having traffic markings in the middle of an intersection – this is not usually done. (The main exception that comes to mind is at confusing intersections where lane guides are painted to help those turning proceed properly.)

I might feel differently if I went and saw this intersection to see the markings in context. Alas that is not practical (I now live 2000 miles away).

From a traffic-marking-consistency point of view, I would prefer 4 standard sharrows – one at the entrance to each route out of the intersection.

Of course, from an artistic, esthetic point of view, the sharrow flower is hard to beat.

PS – Note that this is a negative comment (mildly negative, but I do express my opinion of concern with the exhibited markings). In expressing my disagreement, I used no sarcasm, I put no one down, and I did not imply that those responsible are somehow incompetent. I offer this as an example of how to create a _constructive_ negative comment.

BURR
Guest
BURR

On the one hand PBOT is completely paranoid about using ‘non-standard’ markings and on the other they are the worst offenders; the way they are using sharrows just doesn’t make sense, and dilutes their true meaning and purpose.

When are we finally going to see the promised sharrows on SE Hawthorne, East 28th, SE 11th and 12th, and so many other arterials that really need sharrows for their intended purpose, and not these glorified route markings on low-traffic routes?

Erinne
Guest
Erinne

noah #8 wins this thread, IMHO.

eric
Guest
eric

When are we finally going to see the promised sharrows on SE Hawthorne, East 28th, SE 11th and 12th, and so many other arterials that really need sharrows for their intended purpose, and not these glorified route markings on low-traffic routes?

I agree with this. I would include the top deck of the steel bridge. From what I can tell, Sharrows are best as a reminder to idiot cagers and bikers that we need to share the road, and putting them where they are useful as a reminder to the aforementioned idiots seems to be a better use of my money.

Counterpoint: These suck far less as wayfinding markers then the tiny little medallions sharrows replace.

So: Better for wayfinding, worse for reminding cagers and bikes to share the road.

Mike Fish
Guest
Mike Fish

I like the sharrow flowers, and agree they should get some on SE 11th and SE 12th since so many other N-S routes involve high numbers of stop signs (enforced by police stings). It’s fine with me to use other, legal routes like SE 11th and 12th, but it would be nice to get some more markings and not get buzzed every time I do it.

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

Yeah I’m a bike commuter, a driver and I have no idea what the ‘sharrow’ means or how it does any good.

What we need are concrete rules for bikers and drivers, and for those to be tested on liscence tests. This would help deal with some road rage and make more drivers aware of bicyclists.

Alex Reed (formerly Malex)
Guest
Alex Reed (formerly Malex)

Here is my improved positive comment:
I think that it is totally sweet, because
a) I’ve found myself veering off of neighborhood greenways in the past due to a missed turns, and I appreciate the in-or-near intersection reinforcement of which way to go
and
b) It’s pretty and lets everyone know that these streets are good places to bike!

Red Forman
Guest
Red Forman

For clarification would the following “postive” statements require explanation of their “postive” position as you are now requiring of negative comments? Just want to be sure that every comment posted be a good one ” positive or negative – includes some reasoning to back it up. ”

“I like it. I only wish my neighborhood had a sharrow flower. :)”

“I think it’s totally sweet.”

“awesome! love it! and the name of “sharrow flower” is good too, although sharrowken is hilarious…

looking forward to seeing some of these around SE Bush/101st in my neighborhood…”

“Reminds me of a compass rose.”

“schizarrow”

“Right on, man. Like, right on. Also, I’m with JAT…sharrowken.”

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

negativity or positivity is in the eye of the beholder. when opinion is edited to conform to a blog owners idea of what the *majority* (or advertisers and supporters) want, the discussion quickly becomes an echo chamber.

imo, social ratings and/or registration are preferable to heavy handed moderation and censorship.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

What needs to happen is a billboard or two around town in order to clarify, legitimize, and reinforce to drivers what the concept of a sharrow means. I’m still confused myself.

Beyond that, some guerilla marketing would be in order; silkscreen some t-shirts, make up bumper stickers or dare I say little propaganda stickers above urinals, haha.

See this fellow’s blog http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2009/09/share-road-marking-signage-improvements.html

or the wikipedia guerrilla marketing page for inspiration.

jim
Guest
jim

Thanks Jonathan for the constructive feedback. Your points are well taken. You are a respected journalist and I am a simple bloger that is lucky if I get the dot over the “i’s”
Back to my opinion that the sharrows are a waste of money. As I recall there was a budget of $384,000 for the sharrows, correct me if I’m wrong. What ever it was it dosen’t change your rights at all, you could ride any of these streets before the sharrows were painted, it dosen’t change if a car drives there either. Sharrows on skinny streets like Concord don’t make any sense at all. If a car is coming he still has to either ride behind you or pass you, the same as any other street. Sharrows painted down the middle of the road with one pointing north and the next one pointing south is completely insane. The sharrows don’t direct any instruction to anyone, it’s not like a stop sign, or any other sign, it dosen’t mean anything. These were placed by grant money (right?) what money is going to repaint them in a few years when they are worn out? There won’t be another grant for re-painting. We can’t even keep our crosswalks painted. The city is broke,they can’t balance the budget they have, or keep up the citys needs… excuse me if I vent on them sometimes. I think this money could have been spent on something that would have had a bigger and longer lasting impact. How long will it be before they come up with a new confounded idea to paint on the roads? These are a little bit like the chevrons that used to be on some of the freeway ramps a few years ago. I think it reaks of govt. out of control.

aaronf
Guest
aaronf

jim raises a good point. When they wear off, will the feds repaint them?

No wonder they aren’t putting them on Hawthorne, the Steel Bridge or other places that they might actually be helpful in reminding folks that bikes belong… they would wear off and never be repainted.

Leif
Guest

Hi folks,
In case you were unaware, Concord Avenue is a “bike boulevard” [1], a sort of bike arterial where bicycles are encouraged to take the full lane and auto traffic is discouraged. Hence the markings on the pavement, the navigation signs you see in the photo above, the stop signs turned to facilitate through bike traffic, and the frequent speed bumps.

It’s a much more pleasant way to get where you need to go than on a busy street with loads of cars swerving by you.

[1] See http://www.bta4bikes.org/at_work/bikeboulevards.php or Wikipedia

mello yello
Guest
mello yello

Sharrows were painted on already commonly used bikeways. Drivers are so busy doing everything but paying attention to their driving nowadays, that a sharrow is necessary to remind drivers to be extra vigilant for the increased cyclists on that street.

Crosswalks wear out prematurely at the points where tires cross their lines. In the case of sharrows, it’s been shown that drivers tend to drive completely over rather than on the sharrow itself when installed away from curbs and closer to the center of lanes. As a consequence they last longer.

Lastly, anyone who uses a street with sharrows is definitively reminded that bikes are on the roadway and to pay f’in attention. How many drivers(or cyclists) even register the yellow “bikes on roadway” or green ‘bike route’ signs?

keith
Guest
keith

I’ve been visiting N Portland for the last couple of weeks and have found the new sharrows helpful in getting around. I’ve gotten pretty brazen about just following them if they look like they go in a useful direction. No dead-ends on these routes (at least for bikes!).

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

And a darn fine point by jim in #31.
Was this grant money legislatively “boxed in” so that it could only be used on paint or roadway surface markings?
It is one thing to say that the funds should have been used on something more permanent and less vauge/confusing, both of which I agree whole heartedly.
It’s another to say that we could have spent that money on something we may not have been allowed to.

To me this seems like the root of jim’s ire: not that sharrows are pointless, stupid or wasteful but that we were not able, by law or by will, to spend those funds on some permanent improvement to cyclist safety.

By isolating cycling’s fiscal funding stream from automotive projects have we shot ourselves in the foot on ability to reroute funding to where it is needed now versus when the funding allocaton was passed years ago?

Coldswim
Guest
Coldswim

Warning!!! Parking bicycle in the middle of Sharrow Flower will cause said bicycle to launch 100ft into the air, fly to next available Sharrow Flower, and safely land within receiving Flower. Results may vary.

3-speeder
Guest
3-speeder

To jim #31: Our collective interests are best served if these comments are used for _constructive_ dialog, whether the opinions expressed are positive or negative.

It is not that you do not make some good points. But the tone and presentation of your post are ineffective.

You start with a sarcastic jab at Jonathan. I, and I suspect a majority other readers, typically skip over the remainder of any post like this. Because of the focus on negative posts, I chose to read on this time.

You then make a few statements that seem to indicate that you are opposed to _any_ paint-on-pavement markings for traffic control or traffic calming. Since such markings are commonly used by DOTs and accepted by road users, this will be a difficult point to be persuasive about. Such an opinion is valued, but it will require more effort to make your case persuasively.

Buried after all this is then an excellent point – the paint will wear and funds for repainting in the future is far from certain. Unfortunately, because of the way you chose to express yourself, most readers will not find this in your post. By definition, if you have a good point to make that doesn’t reach most readers, then the post is ineffective.

I am one of the survey responders who stated that mean, rambling, ineffective comments are my least favorite thing about BikePortland. I applaud Jonathan for trying to address this. And I am writing this comment at what may be a teachable moment to persuade you and others to try to express yourselves in a constructive manner as is suitable for public dialog.

Of course, it is possible you have no interest in constructive dialog, but just want to express frustration without regard to how others react. In that case, I ask you to stop posting comments here and start your own blog.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“The city is broke,they can’t balance the budget they have”

Whether or not you believe that PDX has a long-term budget problem (I do) this is simply not true.

“There won’t be another grant for re-painting. We can’t even keep our crosswalks painted.”

You don’t know this.

Moreover, the small circular bike boulevard markings from 10-15 years ago are faded but largely still visible.

chelsea
Guest
chelsea

I think it looks good and is a useful reminder for all to share the road and a notice for bikes that it is probably a decent route.

As far as claims of censorship and heavy-handed moderation go: Jonathan is obviously (to me at least) not asking for people to withhold negative comments. Nothing of the sort. He is simply asking people to state the reason behind their disapproval, I assume, so we can all better understand their opinions and be better equiped to form an opinion of our own.

are
Guest

here is the grant prospectus
http://www.scribd.com/doc/32095568/16449-Prospectus-Final
the grant was for $1 million, and a condition stated in the prospectus was that the signage would be AAHSTO compliant. the criteria for placement of sharrows are sufficiently vague that the devices strewn along bike boulevards — even those to the left of the center line — are probably compliant. however. the “broken” sharrow and the “sharrowken” are not, and i very much doubt that PBoT used grant money to put these particular markings down. my anecdotal observation has been that these went down separately and after the basic sharrows. someone can ask kyle chisek, but my guess is these nonstandard devices were paid for from a separate fund.

david haines
Guest

Thanks for the follow-up, Jim / ^31.

Maybe PBOT needs to better clarify the purpose of the sharrows.

At no point, no matter how many wheels I was riding at the time, have I felt like the marking was there to change anyone’s “rights.” Plenty of signage exists simply to caution, direct, or advise.

However sharrows do – or at least they’re supposed to – have meaning for people on bikes. Whether they’re an effective use of X dollars, I’m not qualified to say.

And while I certainly sympathize with the desire to vent sometimes, can you provide a link or contact for the assertion that our city is “broke?” I just fired off an inquiry to the auditor but I doubt she’ll get to it for a few days.

jim
Guest
jim

3- speeder-
I did not make a sarcastic jab at Jonathan. I have utmost respect for him as a person and a jouralist, and at the same time I am not such a journalist, I try my best to get my point across, some people never veiw things the same way I do, you may be one of those people. No disrespect to you by anymeans, we are just apples and oranges, both good- just different

todd
Guest
todd

love it!

jim
Guest
jim

David #42
just for starters-
Portland police try to fill a $3.5 million budget gap by cutting overtime and keeping jobs vacant – monday oregonian

Would you feal comfortable buying a bond from the city of Portland? I wouldn’t feal very comfortable investing my money there.

timbo
Guest
timbo

Jim came back with his detailed opinion, which was lacking in the first go around.

But now that he has, whether you agree or disagree you should respect his argument.
He came back with facts and figures and thoughts for us to ponder. Who’ll fund the repainting of them? A decent question. A little push back from some one like Jim is healthy for us all.

matt picio
Guest

3-speeder (#22) – Regarding markings in the intersection, I think you have some very valid concerns, but this also exists in another form in those intersections that have undergone “intersection repair”, like SE Sherrett & 9th or SE Belmont and 33rd.

jim has some good points, and they bring up a larger issue – what plans does PBOT have to enhance cycling should funding sources not materialize. It’s fine and good to say that the new bike plan outlines what order any improvements will be made, but let’s look at worst-case. If NO funding can be found, and current funding is reduced, and bike trips continue to grow – what plans does PBOT have to accommodate that growth? Is it possible for current funds to be diverted, or are they fixed in place?

david haines
Guest

I certainly respect questioning whether the markings are the best use of the money. I’m on the fence on that one myself.

The inference that Portland is broke inspired me to do some research. Lots of info online of course (here’s a good start), but I also got this remark from a friend in the accounting field (unrelated to any government):
“Yeah some people will call government ‘broke’ in the same sense that you’re ‘broke’ because you owe more on your mortgage than you have in your bank account today…”

He went on to describe how broken ideas of the meanings of “broke” and related terms are currently popular in a certain media outlet.

I was also informed by the City Auditor that:
“…there are statutory prohibitions against public sector organizations failing to maintain a balanced budget and also statutory requirements for annual audits of financial statements of all publicly funded agencies.”

It was interesting to look into this – I didn’t know anything about our city’s financial health. From all I could find, including subscribing to Moody’s bond ratings (yeah, I know), not only is Portland not “broke,” it has an excellent credit rating.

But that’s just a tangent that caught my brain, it doesn’t have anything to do with sharrow value. I’m assuming the goal with sharrows was to designate routes and serve as a share-the-road reminder. I doubt they’ll be a way to really measure their worth, other than maybe the annual bike count next summer.

Brandon’s remark that he has “no idea what the ‘sharrow’ means or how it does any good” is interesting. People not understanding street markings is a problem. I’d say we need an education campaign, except the inevitable question will be cost, and I’m getting so effing tired of how our society, me included, constantly makes money the focus of every little thing.

JJ
Guest
JJ

I find it to be crazy that as the rest of the country adapts sharrows to mean “cyclists, bike HERE on the road, away from doors” Portland is using them to say “there’s stuff that way. And that way. And more stuff the other way”.

The whole point of the MUTD is to have ONE set standard for roads, because people travel to other states.

Having one city say “sharrows are for wayfinding” while everyone else is saying “sharrows are to indicate the best place to ride” hurts everyone.