Wednesday, August 28, 2013

ANC 3E to Take up More Bike Sharrows in the Ward

On the heels of the recent decision by ANC 3D to support bike facilities on New Mexico Avenue, ANC 3E will weigh a DDOT proposal to install sharrows (the stenciled biker logos on the street) within its boundaries on 41st Street from Western to Tenleytown and on Jenifer Street from Western to Nebraska Avenue. There is a small segment of the 41st Street proposal which lies in the ANC 3G boundary.

There has been a little discussion on the Chevy Chase Listserv, with a primary concern around the traffic diverter at 43rd Street and Jenifer:

I am concerned about the proposed change in the traffic diverter, which would make an important piece of safety infrastructure less effective and would encourage bicyclists on Jenifer Street to cross through the center of the traffic diverter, when the current practice of using the ramps and curb cuts is safer. A bicyclist cycling through the opening in the traffic diverter will be directed into on-coming traffic, while one using the ramps and curb cuts will be crossing 43rd Street safely alongside the crosswalk.

If this is a true concern, the ANC can work with DDOT to change the configuration of the diverter to make it safe for bicycle and emergency equipment passage while eliminating private vehicle passage.

Detractors also allege the sharrows will be an unsafe solution for cyclists:

... it will direct some cyclists to Jenifer Street, which has very high parking utilization on both sides of the street and has only about a lane and a half of space available for two-way traffic. Most cyclists will not change their route as a result of the new signs and paint, but some cyclists who aren't familiar with the safer routes will be encouraged to choose Jenifer Street over safer and possibly more direct routes in the grid of neighborhood streets. With the high parking utilization and high demand for parking, Jenifer Street has a large number of distracted drivers concentrating on trying to find a parking space, especially on weekends. With the narrow width available for two-way traffic, it is difficult for the cyclist to stay far enough to the right, to allow on-coming traffic to pass easily, and still avoid the door zone. Painting "sharrows" in the road doesn't change the amount of space available for cars and bikes.

This seems to be a false concern. A sharrow is:

a street marking installed at locations in Australia, Canada, and the United States. This marking is placed in the center of a travel lane to indicate that a bicyclist may use the full lane.

The intent is to:

- Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist’s impacting the open door of a parked vehicle;

- Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane;

- Alert motorists of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way;

- Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists; and

- Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

Ultimately, there will be more cyclists in the District in the future. Steps taken today to help facilitate safe practices and passages will improve mobility for cars and bikes alike. The implementation of sharrows on quiet residential streets are a good step in the right direction. Interested parties should plan on attending the ANC 3E meeting:

Thursday, August 29, 2013, 7:30pm
Embassy Suites, Chevy Chase Pavilion
4300 Military Road, NW
(On top of the north exit from the Friendship Heights Metro)

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