Posted by: Michael McKisson
July 24, 2013
Source: Tucson Velo
New sharrows along Fourth Avenue appear to place cyclists in or dangerously close to the door zone. (Check the video at the end of the post to find out what the door zone is.)
City crews Contractors placed the pavement markers heading south on Fourth Avenue between the streetcar tracks and the parked cars.
The sharrow above is the first sharrow cyclists encounter heading south on Fourth Avenue after passing University Boulevard. Assuming cyclist would ride directly down the center of the sharrow, a rider would hit a parked car.
It’s unclear if parking along that stretch will be eliminated and the Ann Chanecka, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager could not be reached for clarification. Even if parking is removed at that location, riders will have to move away from the curb to avoid parked cars further down the road presenting challenges with merging into traffic.
The center of the next sharrow, which you see above, is 4.5 feet away from the edge of this track, which is parked very close to the curve. A cyclist riding down the center of the sharrow would likely crash into the door if it was opened.
When cyclists get to a streetcar stop, the sharrows move toward the curb. Again a cyclist will have to merge back into the travel lane. It is safer to remain near the tracks to prevent a car from trying to pass and avoiding a conflict when moving back into the lane to avoid parked cars.
As you can see from this image, riding down the center of the sharrow would likely result in a collision since on average, handlebars extend about nine inches on either side of the bike. This motorist is not within the white lines, but as we’ve seen, that is common practice on Fourth Avenue.
We will follow up with the city to see if any adjustments will be made.
Regardless of the new sharrows, I will continue riding a few inches to the right of where the concrete and asphalt meet. What about you?
To be certain “Sharrows” do not constitute a ‘Bike Lane‘. They are instead a visual reminder to ‘Share The Road‘. In essence they alert motorists to the fact that they should expect bicyclists to be traveling along with them. But as with Chicago cyclists like to ride directly over the ‘sharrows‘ and here too they hug the ‘Door Zone‘.
What ends up happening is that riders get comfortable traveling in the ‘Door Zone‘ and begin to raise their speeds. If you are traveling fast enough and are constantly checking your left shoulder for passing traffic you eventually are unaware of the potential for a ‘Door Zone‘ Collision. That can be something that results in serous injury or even death.
Getting riders to ‘Take the Lane‘ is difficult. There is not much in the way of formal education for cyclists. We are just beginning to bring it back in some school districts but that of course is not sufficient to get the adult population trained and instructed in time for next season. Because of the lack of understanding of Vehicular Cycling folks whose regions rely on the vastly cheaper ‘lick and a promise‘ approach used by less affluent cities will experience some rather nasty situations all being ‘caused‘ by rider ignorance of how to avoid a ‘Door Zone‘ Collision in the first instance (by riding at least four feet to the left of the parked cars). But we also need to educate our municipal workers on the value of placing these ‘sharrows‘ somewhere out of the ‘Door Zone‘ to aid those who ‘didn’t get the memo‘.