If you’ve traveled along Fountain Ave. in Hollywood or Reseda Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley in the last year, you may have caught a glimpse of an LADOT trial “sharrow.” Also known as a shared lane marking, these painted road icons are designed to help Angelenos in cars share the road more safely with Angelenos on bikes.
City of Los Angeles transportation officials wanted to study how and where sharrows were most effective at improving safe conditions for bicyclists before making the decision to expand their use. After a year of studying the effects of sharrows on six streets, the results are in and they look promising, according to the city.
Here’s the gist from the LADOT Bike Blog:
Sharrows improved the interactions between drivers and bicyclists in a number of ways: drivers passed bicyclists at greater distances, drivers allowed a greater tailing distance when following behind a bicyclist, tailgated a bicyclist far less often, took fewer aggressive actions, and were less abusive towards bicyclists.
The LADOT Bike Program will now begin implementing sharrows throughout the city. They will be used primarily on narrower streets with lighter vehicle traffic and to close gaps in the city’s network of bike lanes and paths. LADOT staff is also recommending that sharrows always be accompanied by signs that read “bicycles may use full lane” — as soon as they’re added to the California Manual for Traffic Control Devices.
To clarify: cyclists are by law entitled to use a full lane of traffic — i.e. a cyclist doesn’t have to scoot over to the right or left of the lane to allow traffic to pass. One reason that sharrows are used is to put cyclists in the part of the lane where they are most likely to be visible to motorists and to keep cyclists out of the way of doors of vehicles in adjacent parking lanes.
It’s worth noting that Metro has its own bike program, too, that is seeking to add bike infrastructure help bicyclists get to and from transit. Additionally, LADOT’s study could provide helpful info for other cities working with Metro to make that bike-to-transit connection.
You can read the full LADOT report here [PDF].
What do you think of sharrows? Discuss!