Monday, February 08, 2016

Sharrows in New Albany: "A low-cost way for cities to say they’re doing something about safety and street design without really doing much at all."

Days of future past.

Nothing better symbolizes the comprehensive failure of New Albany's Main Street "Improvement" Project than the street's transformation from bicycle-friendly to bicycle-prohibitive.

Yes: Those magical, transformative sharrows.

October 18, 2014
Basically, sharrows suck, so naturally New Albany plans more of them, so we can be "bike friendly" on the cheap.

November 10, 2014
"Sharrows are popular because they are politically easy," and so in NA, they'll multiply like rabbits.

January 4, 2015
Gahan AWOL as cyclist assays new Main Street sharrows: "Someone is going to get seriously hurt or worse."

May 21, 2015
This bicyclist seems mistrustful of the Main Street sharrows.

A Fb conversation ensured. A few random comments:

Jeff Gillenwater 
As many have pointed out, Main Street is indeed more dangerous for bikes now than it was before the "improvement" project.

Roger A. Baylor
Now, Spring Street between Silver and Beharrel will have no bicycle infrastructure of any sort. Rather, our planners will connect bicycles to Spring via Silver, where infrastructure is largely non-existent, and where there is no stated plan to remedy this. When I pointed this out to Larry Summers, Rosenbarger having already fled the room, Larry replied that it's the best that can be done, and there's no choice except gradually implementing inadequate remedies over a long period of time. Thus, we get what we deserve -- good and hard.

Main St. in New Albany is a joke and median makes it worse. There is barely enough room for a car to pass a bike, and when they do, if someone was to open a door on a parked car, you are toast.

Roger A. Baylor
And folks like Greg Phipps knew this from the start. But as we've learned so often before, in NA, one doesn't fuck with the in-fix. Apart from Matt Nash, I'm trying to think of an elected official past or present who actually has tried to ride a bike locally. Surely I'm forgetting someone? Maybe John Gonder, ousted by the Floyd County Democratic Party for being an A student.
I ride thousands of miles a year and on all sorts of roads, but I will no longer ride on Main street.

My daughter came into town the other day and took me out for supper via Main Street. She was horrified at how small and dangerous it felt to drive that street. "So many blind spots." Yep.

Then there are those pesky researchers. How dare they contradict Team Gahan.

Some Bike Infrastructure Is Worse Than None at All, by Eric Jaffe (City Lab)

It’s time to put the sharrow to rest.

Denver gave rise to the sharrow in the early 1990s, and now two researchers there offer a compelling case to put the lowly form of bike infrastructure to rest.

You’ve seen a sharrow painted on city streets: it’s that image of a cyclist below two arrows in the middle of a lane that—you guessed it—is meant to be shared by bikes and cars. The Federal Highway Administration gave sharrows its official blessing in 2009, and the symbol is now ubiquitous across urban America. It’s also arguably the least-loved nod to cycling, a low-cost way for cities to say they’re doing something about safety and street design without really doing much at all.


 ... What is clear in the Vision Zero era is that truly prioritizing bike safety means building separated bike lanes. The results should be confirmed in other cities for good measure, but they certainly seem to suggest that sharrows are poor substitutes for bike lanes at best and “more dangerous than doing nothing” at worst, write Ferenchak and Marshall.

They conclude, in a working paper recently presented at TRB 2016, with some harsh words:

As sharrows do not provide designated space for bicyclists and do not enhance the overall bicycle network, all cities should (as many already have) begin to consider sharrows simply as signage as opposed to actual infrastructure. It is time that sharrows are exposed for what they really are, a cheap alternative that not only fails to solve a pressing safety issue, but actually makes the issue worse through a sense of false security.

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