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i live right off of walter reed and the sharrows make no sense to me. i saw them go in a few weeks ago and kept waiting for them to finish painting the lines. i guess that's all that we're getting? honestly, i felt more comfortable with the narrow bike lanes. i don't think drivers understand the sharrows, there is no dedicated bike space, and "taking the lane" as you put it seems like asking to get kornheisered (tm).

Perhaps we need an area-wide DIY campaign to publicize what the hell a "sharrow" is since local DOT's seem to be taking the easy road installing them instead of bike lanes recently:


I'm sure some intrepid punk rock kids around here have a killer wheat-paste recipe.

On an only tangentially related note (link being pavement markings on VA streets), the lane markings at Commonwealth Ave and Mount Vernon Ave in Alexandria have been redone following the completion of a new building construction project at the intersection. And I was pleasantly surprised to notice on my way home form work yesterday that they include a small bike box for traffic SSW-bound traffic on the east side of Mt. Vernon Ave!

It's not painted with a green or red background (which would have been even better), but there is clearly a box-shaped space the entire width of the lane between the car stop line and the crosswalk w/ a bicycle painted in it!!!

I didn't know that it was going in, so it was a very nice surprise. Hope Alexandria does more of that kind of thing.

BlindPilot, can you get a photo of that?

I sure can. It's near less than a mile from my apartment, so I'll grab my camera when I get home and e-mail it to you ASAP this evening.

Dan, those weren't "narrow bike lanes", those were gutter pans. Nothing even remotely safe about them, in my opinion. I'd much rather take the lane than invite a motorist to share the lane with me there by squeezing into that "bike lane."

The sharrow placement is disappointing, and as a result, the BAC is hoping to be able to work with Arlington's DES (the people responsible for installing/painting the sharrows) to get a set of written guidelines specific to Arlington (e.g., when will Arlington follow AASHTO best practices, and when will it not?)

@MB, I'm hoping i can make the next BAC meeting, I'd like to help out with that effort however I can. Arlington DES briefed our civic association on some traffic calming planned on S. Joyce St, but doesn't think sharrows are an appropriate element (per AASHTO guidelines), i disagree.

This is on my commute. I tried to get a cellphone pic today but it came out crappy.

Regardless, the sharrows are right in the gutter, completely unusable. I shudder to think of a naive, beginning cyclist trying to actually ride there. They would be terrified and likely to wind up injured.

The only way I can think to explain this is that this section of Arlington just isn't cared about. Both the gutter sharrows and the earlier "bike lanes," if that is indeed what the white lines were meant to be, are just phenomenally stupid, and it's obvious no one who actually bikes on the street was involved in either decision.

I have an email explaining it. It's a poor explanation, but I'll email it to you.

I can get pics too if needbe. It's on my commute, and I have been ignoring the idiotic things, and I just hope the car drivers don't get more aggressive now that they have an arrow pointing at the gutter with a figure of a cyclists.

Supposedly there are signs going up that will say bikes have the right to the full lane, but I haven't seen them yet.

I have attended most of the Arlington BAC meetings since this whole foofaraw started.

There is definitely a disconnect. The Arlington staff members who attend the BAC meetings are mostly terrific, and generally understand the needs of cyclists. Getting that implemented has been the problem, and we keep working on it.

That said, BAC meetings are open to anyone, and we would be pleased to have more attendees. They are the first Monday of the month at 7 PM in the ground floor conference rooms at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. Hope to see you there.



Now Arlington County has added this signage all along Walter Reed between Arlington Mill Road and Rt 7.

I am curious why you object to the sharrows in this situation. Isn't it better than nothing? The fog line leaving a narrow gutter was clearly not a bike lane and at least the sharrow indicates to drivers that bikes may be using the road and that their presence is expected and encouraged. In an urban setting, the sharrow communicates to bikes that they should ride further into the lane, but in a suburban setting...what are the best practices? I am looking to promoting cycling in my New England town and we do not have room for bike lanes. We have an opportunity to re-paint the fog lines following recent repaving, but perhaps sharrows would be better. It is a 2-lane road, very rural in character, but only 25 feet wide in many places and 35-40mph speed limit.

I don't know. Are sharrows that don't meet minimum safety standards better than nothing?

@washcycle, geeky technical point, but the MUTCD unfortunately doesn't provide a 'standard' for the spacing. the only 'guidance' on spacing doesn't apply to a situation like S Walter Reed, where there's no adjacent parking.

It just says 'at least 11 feet from the curb where there's parking'. The "intent" is to provide 4 feet of clearance from doors, assuming 7 feet for a parking spot. But it's silent on the Walter Reed situation, and also could lead to problems where there's an 8-ft wide parking bay.

After all that, though, the S Walter Reed sharrows are ridiculous. sharrows are a bit of a wild frontier -- minimal guidance, so folks are slapping them down in both good and bad ways.

@Dave, sharrow guidance also says 35mph max. And not to say that sharrows aren't appropriate for suburban/rural contexts to create motorist awareness, but there are few best practices in that use because they were primarily developed and experimented with to coax cyclists out of the door zone. Google the San Francisco shared lane marking study, though, it might have some statistics that support the motorist awareness effect.

These changes must have been made at some cost... and to little effect. I'd like to know who directed the "painter" to do what they did. More importantly, the changes that involved removing the narrow "lane" stripe required scraping it up, creating an uneven surface right where a bicycle would likely tread!

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