Why We Need to Watchdog Sharrow Placement
“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.”
It’s taken a while for sharrows to be used in Central Florida, but it has begun. Many upcoming projects in the metro area will be incorporating sharrows. We hope that our dogged reminders at BPAC of how to use them properly will result in good placement without too much need for vigilance. Nonetheless, please keep your eyes open and let us know how the paint is going down.
Fred U. did that this week in Ormond Beach. Here’s what he found:
The travel lane is 11ft wide from the parking line to the left lane line. As you know, 11ft is not wide enough to share without the door zone. And that’s not all…
I guess I need to amend my instructions to “pay attention to the process of sharrow placement everywhere they are used.“ This travel lane is 12ft from the curb face to the left lane line. Though the actual lane width does not include the 15-inch gutter pan.
As if the MUTCD minimums were not bad enough, these installations don’t even meet them. The intent seems to be to keep the bicyclists as far right as possible, as if that will minimize their impact on the important traffic. Of course, it’s going have a different impact on the bicyclist who is sideswiped, or doored then run over. It certainly won’t reduce the impact on the motorist who misjudges the space needed to pass and hits a bicyclist—that’s going to cause a whole lot more delay than waiting a few seconds to change lanes. Oh for that critical moment back where you could have just changed lanes… but it looked so inviting.
Below are illustrations I’ve sent, along with Fred’s photos, to a contact at FDOT.
The Effective Lane is the usable lane space outside the door zone (or the gutter). It is identified by the car tire tracks. Motorists always center themselves in the effective lane—outside the door zone, away from the gutter or pavement hazards. The best sharrow placement is on the oil stain because that is in the center of the effective lane, and it will last longer because it won’t get worn down by tire tracks.
Bicyclist Width and Operating Space per AASHTO is shown in more detail in this graphic. It does not include clearance from fixed objects or passing cars. It also does not take into account the diversity of bicycle, tricycle and cargo widths.
Exclusion Zones can be fixed or dynamic. They include the door zone, the edge hazard zone (gutter seams, debris and bad pavement), the conflict zone at every intersection and driveway (where the bicyclist is vulnerable to turning crash conflicts) and the close-passing zone. The close passing zone is the distance from the centerline where a motorist thinks he can squeeze by without changing lanes. If there is not enough space in the lane for a bicyclist, a car and (at least) the minimum passing clearance, the close passing zone is all of the space to the right of six feet from the center line or lane line. Both sharrow placements on SR 40 are in the close-passing zone.
They must be moved ASAP.
I’ll let you know what happens.