Holy S#!7 Sharrows!

UPDATE: I’ve changed my opinion on sharrows. Please see the post “Optimized Sharrow Usage” for more.

I’d heard a rumor on RIBIKE that there were sharrows on the way to our little state. And now, what is that I see in the distance?

It’s a sharrow!

They’re all over the place on Gano Street coming up from the I-195 bridge. I believe that the idea is to guide people from the East Bay Bike Path to the Blackstone Blvd. bike lanes, and from there to the Blackstone Valley Bike Path.

Sharrows on Pitman Street

The sharrows are close to the curb when on the side of the street where there is no parking, and well outside of car distance on the side of the street where parking is allowed.

The above is an example of a sharrow alongside a parking lane. The inner-most part of the sharrow could put a cyclist in the dreaded “door zone,” but the outer-most 3/4 of the sharrow is well outside of the door zone. The savvy cyclist should, as always, stay well outside of the doorzone.

For the uninitiated (that is to say, anyone who doesn’t spend all of their time thinking about bike infrastructure), “sharrow” is short for “shared lane marking arrow” (or something like that). These are used to indicate that an area of the street is appropriate for bicycles to use, but it is not a bike lane per se, so cars can use that area too. When I look at the symbol, it makes perfect sense to me, but as I said, I spend too many of my waking hours thinking about bike infrastructure. So, does the average Rhode Island driver know what is meant by this strange new symbol on the pavement? Since the average RI driver doesn’t seem to know what is meant by a 4-way Stop sign (or a No Turn On Red, No U-Turn, 25 MPH, One-Way sign) my guess is that they won’t really understand what these sharrows mean.

Still, I’m very happy to see the sharrows and I look forward to the day when I can have a reasonable, informative discussion with a motorist about what these strange marking symbolize.

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11 responses to “Holy S#!7 Sharrows!

  1. We looked for the ones leading away from the Boulevard and up through Pawtucket, but were badly disappointed. Also, bridge construction has closed the most likely route, so there’s that.

    In a related story: Blackstone Valley Bike Path is still great.

    • Yeah that bridge construction is really in the way for getting to BVBP. One could always take Broad street all the way through Central Falls, but that can get a little hairy for the inexperienced cyclist. Lots of potholes, narrow lanes, broken glass, GOOD TIMES!

      Good to hear that BVBP is still nice, I haven’t been up there for a few months. It’s my favorite path in the state.

  2. Frymaster, I saw something about the request from DOT to the City, but the Pawtucket access has been referred to zoning I believe. There are some parking spaces along Pleasant that need to be moved, if I recall.

  3. I noticed these on Sunday myself. Very informative with the exception of not indicating turns. The second picture above appears to be the corner of Gano and Pittman. The only problem is that the arrows point straight, yet the next sharrow is actually right onto Pittman.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a curved sharrow. You’re right in that there should be some signage indicating that this is the route to Blackstone Blvd. and people need to turn right at this point.

  4. Lots of potholes, narrow lanes, broken glass, GOOD TIMES!

    Story of my life.

  5. Just FTR on several fronts.

    Sharrows are also in place in East Providence between the Washington Bridge and the beginning of the EBBP. They have also made the intersection of Mauran Ave. and First St. a 4 way stop. Though I think 1st should actually have right of way, this is an improvement over when Mauran had right-of-way.

    The best bridge construction route between Blackstone Blvd. and BVBP is even more terrible because of the south half of the George St. Bridge being destroyed for the construction. But if you follow the car detour (across Pine) you can then take Harrison back down to East Ave (why they still call it that since it hasn’t been connected to East Ave proper since I-95 was built is beyond me) and then down to Roosevelt and then follow the river.

    • I haven’t been over the Washington Bridge to the EBBP since I broke my collar bone. It’s good to hear that the sharrows are going in all over the place. I hope they are used for more than just marking how to get to the recreational cycling routes. We could probably use them on all of the designated bike routes: Hope Street, Main Street, Olney (I’m just mentioning the ones near my house), etc.

      I just saw Mayor Taveras’ tweet about allowing overnight parking on Providence streets. This could be horrible for biking. Sharrows might help alleviate the problem, but I am dreading the day when Hope Street is lined with parked cars just like every street in the Boston area.

  6. I’ve never thought of sharrows as telling cyclists where to go, a la route markers — I thought they were all about deterring drivers from yelling “Get on the sidewalk!” (still happens a few times a year) or crowding me into door zones.

    • By “where to go” I mean “where on this particular roadway one should ride” aka placement within the lane.

  7. Pingback: A special new feature for Car-Free in PVD | Car-Free in PVD

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