Wednesday, August 1

Respectfully Meaningless

Sharrow on NE 75th Street in Seattle - one of the TOP Cycling Cities in the Entire USA!
I Watched - Every Person on a Bike I saw Rode About Where the Back Wheel Ends.
As "Linda A" Said - "Nobody Cares Where the Arrows Point"
This is a topic where I fear to tread. However, the "Institute for Sharrow Research" can remain silent no more. You see, sharrows are one of the subjects on which bicycle advocates MOST love to argue with each other. Which makes it dangerous for me to tread, for fear of being accused of ridiculing same. And hence the title of this post. I really DO mean that first word. I really like the post that Waco made over on Biking in Dallas - one of the best I've seen on that topic. He didn't get all officious on us. As Dragnet once said - "Just the facts, ma'am."

The problem with sharrows is that they're put in place to enable bicycle planners to claim they're connecting bike routes and making stuff better for commuters. Legally, they mean absolutely - NOTHING. Well, another problem with sharrows is that bicycle ADVOCATES seem to LOVE to argue about how far out the sharrow should be painted. Is this one far enough? Well, "AASHTO says" and so on. Perhaps that is the use for sharrows - it keeps ADVOCATES from further belaboring us with stuff that helps nobody.

Personally, I  find sharrows amusing. They come a close second to the "Share the Lane versus BMUFL" debate for useless futility. In either case, regardless of what the advocates decide when they argue with each other, most people on bikes ride close enough to the curb to scare such as me.

For myself, I'd like to see police simply understand the law as its already written - including the exceptions to the discriminatory "Far to the Right" (FTR) language. That'd be a MAJOR advance. So far, I have seen no evidence that the Bedford Police operate otherwise and I salute them. YOU GUYS ROCK! I hope that continues, because Texas law supports my right to ignore sharrows, "share the lane," OR "BMUFL" nonsense. My motorists ignore all that stuff too, so we're in solidarity - well except for a few rare idiots who most readers of this blog have encountered - or at least their cousins in spirit.


Anonymous said...

OK, so it took me the whole post to decipher BUMFL; but I still have no idea what FTR is.
I've found sharrows on Boston roads to be helpful in reminding drivers that bikes do belong on the roads. In Boston the tend to only be used when there physically isn't enough space for bike lane on both sides of the road coupled with narrow lanes. Some roads in the city have managed to squeeze a bikelane on the uphill side and a sharrow on the downhill.
Placement, of course, is a big issue, on a short portion of Columbus Ave, several sharrows were painted beneath parked cars!
PS, The sharrows may have come before the cars.

Pondero said...

You said it well. Sharrows are amusing. And so are the Share the Road and Bike Route signs.

Chandra said...

Nice find! There aren't any sharrows near my home, but I believe there are a few in Historic Irving. I find sharrows confusing. I prefer riding vehicularly, in the lane, where I belong.

Peace :)

Steve A said...

Mark - BMUFL and AASHTO are things advocates like to argue about, along with lots of other acronyms. FTR is different and will get a post of its own. In the meantime, I do an update to reduce that little bit of mystery.

RANTWICK said...

Pffft. Sharrows. Whatever.

How was that for disrespect? It's something I've been working on. Seems to me the problem with sharrows is that you shold put them Everywhere or Nowhere. I don't want nobody thinkin' I should go ride on Sharrow street instead of on "theirs"...

Steve A said...

Rantwick, your statement was MUCH worse than one I made before an advocate who accused me of ridiculing - in a public email. I'm almost surprised I wasn't hauled up on charges of hate speech. Of course, BMUFL versus "share the road" is even MORE controversial. Perhaps it is my Canadian side, but I like y'all's "single file." My own view - since you can't put sharrows everywhere and since you don't always want to ride at the tips of the points, about the best I can say for them is that they keep people at paint companies employed. Around my parts - like Chandra, there are no sharrows which might partly explain my lack of fervor for their details. Certainly, I see no point to the sharrow in this post's photo...

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