Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fairfax Co gets first sharrows

The first sharrows (shared lane markings) in Fairfax County were recently installed on Westmoreland St in McLean. Bike lanes were installed in the north section of that road in 2008. Because the road narrows approaching Kirby Rd to the south, the bike lanes end. This is an ideal location for sharrows and one that FABB suggested needed sharrows.

The sharrows were installed this week. While not a panacea, they do indicate to motorists that they should expect bicyclists in the road. They indicate to cyclists where it's safest to ride, not hugging the white line or curb but into the lane. On a lane that cannot be shared safely with a motorist (less than 14 feet), cyclists should ride so that motorists aren't tempted to pass unsafely in the same lane. They should either move to the adjacent lane if possible or wait until it's safe to pass.

Thanks to VDOT for placing the sharrows. It took a while for them to pass the 2009 MUTCD guidelines that allow the use of sharrows, but now we hope to see many more on our roadways. Future locations include on Old Courthouse Road at Freedom Hill Park where many cyclists ride into Tysons, and on Idylwood Road between Helena Dr and Idyll Lane, where cyclists coming from the W&OD Trail off Virginia Lane ride toward Gallows Road or Pimmit Hills (via Hurst St.).

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This is great, and thanks for your work on this road. I use this road every Tuesday during the summers as I ride to pick up my CSA farm share in Falls Church. The spot on Westmoreland where it narrows is one of the most difficult spots for me, as the road inclines steeply in addition to narrowing. Hopefully sharrows will help increase awareness.

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