Are you ready for ‘sharrow’?
Bicycles would share 20th-to-30th Uintah traffic lanes in new-to-Colorado strategy sought by area cycling community
Uintah Street's traffic lanes between 20th and 30th streets would be formally shared with bicycles as part of a proposed $110,000 project between Walnut Street
They're called “sharrow” lanes - combining the words “shared” and “arrow.” The arrows, plus bicycle markings, would be painted along the right part of Uintah's single traffic lane each way.
The relatively new concept, which started in California in 2005 and won't be law in Colorado until at least next year, is intended to give cyclists adequate space on roads that aren't wide enough for dedicated bicycle lanes, according to Craig Casper, transportation director for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG).
In a sharrow situation, cyclists are supposed to stay to the right, in single file, but if they don't, motorists will either have to wait or look for an opportunity to pass, Casper explained. He noted that “cyclists have equal rights with cars,” and that court cases have shown that in accidents “a tie goes to the cyclist” because bikes are smaller.
The Uintah project was one of 22 proposals on display at PPACG Sept. 9 during a three-hour public open house. Citizens were asked to rank the projects to help the regional planning agency decide how to prioritize $6.5 million in federal funding - it's only enough for 15 of the 22 projects, at most.
Two other project candidates on the Westside are handicapped accessibility improvements for bus stops on Route 14 ($200,000) and a road widening to create bike lanes on 30th Street between Fontmore and Garden of the Gods Road ($471,000).
The deadline for public comments is Sept. 19, according to the PPACG website. For more information, call PPACG at 471-7080, x110.
On Uintah, the sharrow segment would require only signage and street striping; most of the overall project expense would occur between Walnut and 19th, shaving back the hillside, as necessary, to make room for dedicated bike lanes, Casper explained.
Similar improvements would be required if the 30th Street project is selected. It follows a historic route along the hillside below what is now the Kissing Camels area. There is a north-south trail near 30th Street now, but it has an inconsistent surface and meanders more than street bicyclists like, Casper pointed out.
The Uintah and 30th projects are two of the three bicycle-related projects on the 22-item list. The third calls for bicycle lanes along East Bijou Street between Academy and Union boulevards. “All three projects were highly sought after by the bicycling community,” Casper said. “They said, 'If you want to help us out, here's where we need it.'”
According to a project description, the Uintah work is needed because the street “is an important east-west arterial street connecting the west side of the city with the central part near the north end of the Colorado College campus. Presently, the west side of Colorado Springs does not have any east-west facilities other than the Midland Trail… [The new route] will directly connect with existing bicycle lanes or paved shoulders on Mesa Road (north-south) and the regional Pikes Peak Greenway Trail (north-south adjacent to I-25). They will also connect with existing bicycle lanes on Uintah Street between Walnut Street and Cascade Avenue on the east end of the project limits.”
West of 30th, signs would direct Uintah cyclists to 31st via Platte Avenue. This would connect the bike route with the existing north-south bicycle lanes on 31st.
The main reason for originally experimenting with sharrow lanes, according to a City of San Francisco website, was to give more room to cyclists on streets with parked cars because of the danger of car doors opening into them as they rode by.
Sharrow lanes were proposed for 20th to 30th, because there isn't room for dedicated bike lanes along that segment. Plus, the traffic volumes are less west of 20th - Uintah carries 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles a day between 21st and I-25 and only 6,500 from 20th to 30th, the description states.
One more sales point raised in the description is that a Mountain Metro bus route (Route 32) uses West Uintah, and “all Metro buses are equipped with bicycle racks that can provide intermodal connectivivide intermodal connectivity options.”
The citizen prioritizing effort follows staff recommendations and rankings from PPACG's Transporta-tion Advisory Committee.
The federal money for all the projects would require a 20 percent match from local sources. For the three Westside projects, this money would come from the city's general fund, according to Kristin Bennett, the city planner who oversees bicycle lanes.
The Uintah project has the support of both the PPACG staff and committee, while the bus-route improvements and the 30th Street bike lanes were recommended by staff only.
Westside Pioneer article