Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Sharrows" come to Boise

The Highway District is laying out some "sharrows" as a pilot project on a few roads around town.

Reader Bob T found an interesting inquiry - and a good response - at the ACHD website:

The question: There are some new designs, with a bicycle and a chevron at the top, painted in the middle of the car lanes. They are close to the intersection of Eagle Road and State Street in downtown Eagle. What do they mean? Bicycles go here if you want to be squashed? CarolBeth

(That CarolBeth is witty, huh?)

The answer: “Share the road” is a common saying when it comes to cars and bikes using street lanes. But many of us expect that a bicyclist will be in a bike lane or as far to the right of the street as “practicable” if they are traveling below the speed limit.

That’s Idaho law, after all. But there are exceptions. Bicyclists can take over travel lanes to avoid parked cars or other hazards.

ACHD is painting the new markings, called “sharrows,” in low speed limit locations where bicyclists are likely to be doing just that. No matter how fast (or slow) the bicyclist is moving they might be directly in front of motorized vehicles.

The symbols make the arrangement clear to all drivers. Bicyclists aren’t in the road to “be squashed” as you say; they are avoiding being smacked by an open parked car door.

Regardless of the presence of the sharrows, bicyclists are still expected to ride to the right of the roadway if there aren’t parked cars or other hazards.

The markings are part of a pilot project and we’ll have to see how people respond to them. For some motorists, this may seem like more road sharing than they are used to, but it is simply a reminder of existing bicycle laws.

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