Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Princeton Sharrows

"Sharrows" have started to appear on some roads around Princeton, NJ
Didn't know what "sharrows" are? Nor did I. I couldn't even find it in the three dictionaries - Webster's, Oxford, - I checked on the interweb.

Basically, it's a device designed to draw motorists attention to the presence of cyclists in the absence of cycle-lanes and cycle-paths.

It's Princeton's, and I assume, NJDOT's response to improving the safety of cyclists on the town's roads which aren't deemed wide enough to support a more conventional cycle-lane.

The principle is to establish the sharrow at a point in the road where a driver should expect to see a cyclist.

A Sharrow
The picture shows a sharrow on Witherspoon St, heading south towards the Paul Robeson Center. The marking is positioned about 3ft/1m out from the parking lane, beyond the reach of swinging car doors, in the space an assertive cyclist would occupy on the road. This device is repeated every 100yds/100m or so.

I'm not aware of any research which would indicate if these are more effective than a cycle lane, or indeed whether they make any difference at all. I would hope there is some sort of statistical review of this measure to check its effectiveness and whether it improves the cycling environment. I would be interested to see if anyone had looked at European towns and cities which have even narrower streets and larger cycling populations to examine their approach.

More information:

There's a map here ... USDOT guidelines here ...
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