Shared Lane Project - "G" Street from Capitol Parkway/Randolph to 4th Street
The "G" Street project to install a shared lane on-street bike facility from Capitol Parkway and Randolph to the Jamaica North Trail at 4th and "F" Street was completed in 2010. Pavement markings, known as shared lane markings, or sharrows, were installed on "G" Street, as well as Bike Route signs. Eventually, the city will install these useful markings in different locations around the city, where and when appropriate. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the national standard for pavement markings and street signs, adopted sharrows as a standard roadway treatment in December 2009, and many communities have already painted hundreds of them on their streets. Many cities nationwide, such as Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines and Omaha, are now incorporating sharrows into their cycling toolbox.
Because the markings are new to many road users, both bikers and drivers, the City has developed a list of frequently asked questions and provided their answers to help with the success of this new on-street bike facility in Lincoln.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I still drive where these bicycle markings exist?
If there is not an accompanying white stripe with the marking, then it is not a bike lane, like those found in Downtown Lincoln on 11th and 14th Streets. What you're seeing is a shared lane marking, also known as a "sharrow." You may still drive in that travel lane.
What are shared land markings, or sharrows?
Sharrows are short for "shared lane pavement markings." They are comprised of an image of a bicycle with two chevrons (arrows) to indicate that motorists and cyclists are to share the travel lane.
Most streets in Lincoln are shared by cyclists and motorists and don't have sharrows. Why mark only some streets?
While bicyclists are allowed on all streets in Lincoln, with the exception of the Interstate, the city has designated some streets as part of the bike route system in order to help bicyclists safely navigate to their destination. Many of these streets carry lower volumes of traffic with relatively slow speeds, and special markings aren't needed. Right now, we're using sharrows to facilitate cyclists through an important connection in the bike route system. We are placing sharrows only on streets where traffic on the bike route system may be relatively heavy, speeds are a little higher, and/or the streets should be marked with bicycle lanes but cannot be because of street width, demands for on-street parking, or the number of travel lanes. In the case of "G" Street, the segment from Capitol Parkway and 4th Street connects the Antelope Valley trails to the Jamaica North Trail, and it connects Lincoln High to Park Middle School and Cooper Park. Sharrows are a new standard application for on-street bike facilities, and depending on how well they work, we may expand their use.
Why are these markings on the street, what is their purpose?
The principle behind sharrows is simple: to reinforce the existing rules of the road in order to create safer conditions for bicycling. In the absence of bicycle lanes on busy streets, cyclists often ride too closely to parked cars. If somebody were to open a car door as a cyclist passed the cyclist could get "doored" and possibly get injured, perhaps seriously, especially if there was passing automobile traffic. Also, when cyclists stay far right in narrow travel lanes, passing motorists often don't see cyclists or pass too closely to them. This is not only unnerving for the cyclist, but it also leaves little margin for error.
Another purpose of the shared lane markings is to identify certain streets as good routes for bicyclists to use to get to destinations or to other bicycle facilities. "G" Street, for example, has long been identified for an off-street trail facility, but challenges to installing such a facility, such as cost, have limited its viability. Installing a shared land facility instead, will accomplish many of the purposes of a trail and is much less costly to the community.
Why not just stripe bicycle lanes?
We're using the sharrows in areas where there isn't enough room on the street for bicycle lanes. This is typically due to a high demand for on-street parking (as in the case in some stretches of "G" Street), the inability to narrow the existing travel lanes, or a combination of the two. Sharrows are an effective, flexible alternative to striped bike lanes and can be used to improve cyclist safety and make needed connections in the on-street bicycle route system.
As a cyclist, what should I do in the presence of sharrows?
We've placed the sharrows outside of the parked car's "door zone" along the street. When parking is present, we expect cyclists to ride through the center of the sharrow, while still paying attention to potential door openings. The presence of the sharrows also allows cyclists to be safely expected in the street. In general, a cyclist should continue to ride as near to the right hand side of the roadway as practicable, as on other streets, especially when parking is not present.
As a motorist, what should I do in the presence of sharrows?
Slow down and drive carefully. Expect to encounter cyclists along this stretch of street. Motorists need to slow down and either wait for the cyclist to turn off the roadway, or wait until you can pass safely. You probably won't have to wait long, and gunning it past a cyclist to save a few seconds on your travel time isn't worth the risk of injuring someone!
What do you hope to accomplish with the sharrows?
We want to create safer conditions for bicyclists on streets and highlight good on-street bike connections. We hope to do this by moving cyclists a little further away from parked cars than they would normally ride in the absence of sharrows, and by creating a little more separation between passing motorists and cyclists than would normally exist. Also, the more cyclists use this facility, the more expected their presence will be to motorists. This creates a safer riding condition on the street.