The Politics of Sharrows
The narrative for this video is pretty compelling. First reaction is, “Wow! What an improvement over the door zone bike lane!” But looking closely at the distance between the cyclist and the door, it looks like that sharrow should be moved a few feet to the left. Notice that the car in the video is small, and parked well inside the designated parking area. Add a larger vehicle that fills the parking space, and the door could extend as much as 2 feet farther into the lane than that—quite close to the peak of the chevron. The photos on the right illustrate the large variations in the reach of the door zone.
Shared Lane Markings should not be a lane position indicator. They should be used as Winter Park has used them on Palmer. Unfortunately, compromises with anti-cyclist forces were made to get them into the MUTCD. One of the compromises allows them to be placed a minimum of 11 ft from the curb when next to on-street parking. This puts the right half of the sharrow in the door zone. The recommended distance is 13 ft. My preference would be to center the mark in the “virtual lane,” which is the space between the door zone and the center line. That way it maintains its integrity as a shared lane indicator and can’t be misconstrued as a lane position indicator.
We should ask ourselves why anyone with a conscience would insist on such a callous placement when it costs NOTHING to place it farther left. And once you’ve contemplated that, wrap your head around this: several city bike coordinators complained about the 11 ft minimum because they wanted to place it closer! One of those was responsible for this.
Can you see the gaping holes at the bottom of the pyramid? This doesn’t just fail in respect for cyclists as vehicle drivers, it fails in basic respect for us as human beings.
I guess if there’s a lesson in here, it’s never trust paint. And a heads-up to cycling advocates to pay attention to the process of sharrow placement wherever on-street parking is involved.
BTW, our Metroplan Coordinator was one of the voices requesting the distance be increased. So at least we know they’ll be placed better here.