Monday, September 3, 2012

Sharrows in Fairfax City

‘Sharrows’ Remind Motorists to Share the Road With Bikers is a recent article in Fairfax News about planned sharrows on Old Lee Highway:
The city, George Mason University and Fairfax County created the Mason-to-Metro Initiative, with recommendations to improve sign system and map, on-road bicycle facilities and trails.

This fall, the city plans to install shared-use lane markings on sections of Old Lee Highway. These markings, “sharrows,” are two chevrons pointing forward with a bicycle symbol below. Sharrows are used to indicate to cyclists where they should ride in the road. Sharrows also alert motorists to expect bicyclists to share the road.

The city also plans to install signs on Old Lee Highway reinforcing the message to share the road.

Sharrows currently mark the bike lanes on George Mason Boulevard and University Drive between the university and Old Town Fairfax.

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on the road.
Minor correction: The sharrows on George Mason Blvd and University Dr are not bike lanes. The sharrows are used because there is not enough space for bike lanes. They indicate where cyclists should position themselves in the lane and they signal to motorists to expect cyclists riding in the lane.

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Does the presence of the sharrows imply that bikes should no longer use the path along Old Lee Highway, as has been the case for many years?
Cyclists who are more comfortable riding on the path along Old Lee Highway should continue to do so. The sharrows are just for cyclists who choose to ride on the road. Good roads (sometimes called complete streets) will have bike facilities for all levels of riders.

I was with a small group riding on Old Lee Highway yesterday and while the sharrows will help, riding on that road is for more experienced cyclists. I would not want a small child riding on Old Lee Highway , or anyone who is not comfortable on that road, regardless of whether there are sharrows or not. Some motorists we encountered passed too close and were going a little too fast conditions, in my opinion.

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