Sharrows in Bloomington

On my recent trip to Chicago, I was impressed by the large number of residential streets that had both speed bumps and sharrows, while the main streets had sharrows, which being from Bloomington, I had never seen. Drivers of both cars and bikes respect each others right to be on these streets, it is truly amazing. My theory is that the city realized that its gridlock could not be solved by more and wider streets, it was not just possible. So there are more bikes on the street, less cars, and this eases traffic and parking hassles. Hopefully the same can happen here, it is about change our minds, not our environment.

Here is a city press release about the new sharrows:
The City of Bloomington recently installed “sharrows” (“share-the-road arrows”) on College Ave from 11th St. to 4th St., and on Walnut St. from 4th St. to 7th St. The markings consist of a bicycle symbol with two chevrons pointing in the direction of travel.

Sharrows are typically used where a bike lane would be desirable, but cannot be installed due to road width limitations. The new road markings provide guidance to cyclists and motorists alike that bicyclists should occupy the central portion of the right travel lane. This positioning is intended to promote safe riding practices and it also reduces the likelihood of the cyclist colliding with a door from a parked car (getting “doored,” in cycling parlance) or riding off the pavement. By emphasizing the bicyclist’s right to travel in the middle of the lane, sharrows also help to dispel the misconception that cyclists should always travel at the extreme right edge of the road.

If used properly, sharrows should make cyclist and motorist behaviors more predictable, which improves safety for both groups. Cyclists should be more secure in their position in the roadway and less likely to make sudden lateral movements (such as to avoid a car door opening), while motorists will be less likely to pass cyclists too closely, or to otherwise push them toward the edge of the road.

Legally, sharrows do not change the rights or responsibilities of either motorists or cyclists. They do not restrict motorists from using the sharrow lane, nor do they prevent cyclists from using other lanes.

The road marking, which was recently adopted by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, is one example of how the City is implementing proven, innovative ways to increase bicycle awareness and safety on its streets. Mitch Rice, President of the Bloomington Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission noted that “Sharrows are a step forward in helping our community reduce motor vehicle traffic and alleviate parking problems downtown by making our streets safer for cyclists. Shared bike/auto lanes are a cheap and effective method for helping motorists and cyclists to co-create a sustainable, safe community.”. For more information on sharrows, please contact the Planning Department at 349-3423, or the Public Works Department at 349-3411.

Bloomington Sharrow

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