Four years ago next month, a $1 million slice of the federal economic stimulus package started leaving its mark on Portland: 2,100 durable thermoplastic sharrow decals, intended to greatly increase the visibility of the city’s new neighborhood greenway network.
Now, as the city’s fog seal street maintenance efforts have been covering up sharrows, the city faces its first big decision about this bit of bike infrastructure: how to maintain them?
The good news is that the city is “committed to maintaining sharrows in good working order,” spokeswoman Diane Dulken said this week. “They could be thermoplastic, they could be paint, or they could be modified paint with extra beads for reflectivity.”
An “optimal” facility with buffered bike lanes in both directions, but no auto parking on 28th Avenue through its busiest commercial district, probably isn’t in the cards for the 20s Bikeway, a city project manager said this week.
The most comfortable biking plan “achievable,” city project manager Rich Newlands said in a presentation Tuesday to Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, is a design that hasn’t been seen before in Portland or almost anywhere else: a shared lane in one direction, marked by green-backed sharrow stencils, with a buffered bike lane in the other direction.
(Screenshot from Boston Globe)
The latest twist in America’s effort to retrofit our auto-oriented infrastructure so that it’s suitable for cycling comes from Boston. That city hs deployed what’s being called “super sharrows” or “sharrows on steroids.” Here’s a blurb about them from a story published in the Boston Globe on Wednesday:
I first noticed the markings last week while driving through Allston Village. Running down the right-hand lanes on both sides of Brighton Avenue are bike-priority icons, known as “sharrows” in cyclist parlance, hugged by two sets of dashed lines along either side that make the lane look more like an airport runway.
My first thought: Sharrows on steroids!
And Boston bike czar Nicole Freedman said that’s exactly what they are. (Well, except that the former Olympic cyclist wasn’t too happy about the doping analogy.) Officially, the markings have a more dignified name: Priority shared-lane markings.
the crowd trying out a newly right-sized
MacArthur Boulevard Saturday.
(Photos: Dan Packard)
“Like it a lot.” “Love it!” “Feels a lot safer!” “Freakin’ FANTASTIC!”
These were some of the comments from people on a bike ride Saturday along the newly restriped, right-sized MacArthur Boulevard in Vancouver, Wash. After months of advocacy and activism, people who use bikes finally have a model transportation corridor along a portion of the major east/west bicycle route across the southern part of Vancouver.
Mayor Tim Leavitt was one of the approximately 35 people who joined the ride of the new buffered bike lanes. Speaking afterward, he said, “I’m very pleased with the outcome of all the public involvement and advocacy. This new configuration really improves connectivity and safety for everyone who uses the road. And this is just the beginning for this community and will be an example of a smart, safe transportation corridor.”
As part of a restriping project along MacArthur, the city had initially proposed sharrows as a way to appease both people concerned about a sub-standard shoulder for bikes and people who wanted to keep two lanes of auto traffic in each direction, even though the road is very lightly traveled.
Good news: Portland’s bike-friendly neighborhood greenways are getting high priority from Mayor Hales’s pledge for the city to invest more in preventative street maintenance.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Update: See below for a few other examples of graphics that try to answer this question.
There’s an interesting, useful bit of transportation wonkery in The Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s “Blueprint for World-Class Cycling” that came out this week: a visual guide to which sort of streets should get which sort of bike infrastructure.
This is obviously a complicated question, and it’s not something that’s ever going to be summarized by a single chart. But the question arises constantly. Last week, in a moment of heat, two Swan Island transportation advocates said the city would be better off without bike lanes near a crash-prone intersection of Interstate Avenue. Up in Vancouver, Wash., there’s a lively debate right now about whether sharrows are appropriate on a 35 mph four-lane street.
Here’s what the BTA’s new document has to say about the issue:
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)