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Menlo Park To Install Sharrows

Car drivers expected to make room for cyclists.

Menlo Park will be installing sharrows onto the streets in the next few weeks, according to , city transportation engineer for the city. 

Sharrows are shared lane markings that mean different things to different people. For car drivers, they are a reminder to share the road with bicyclists. For cyclists, they are a reminder to ride in the middle of the road.  

Patel said that unlike bicycle lanes, shared lane markings don't designate a section of the street for the  

“They are simply a marking to guide bicyclists to the best place to ride and help motorists expect to see and share the lane with bicyclists,” he added.  

During conversations with avid cyclists, one of the most often cited dangers is the common car door. When a car is parked on the side of the road, the driver's side door will open into the bike lane if one exists.  The subsequent collision between the door and the biker is colloquially known as "getting doored." 

The sharrow installation project has been in the works for a few years, according to city liaison to the .  The sharrows will be placed on Menlo Avenue between El Camino Real and on University Avenue between Middle Avenue and Santa Cruz Avenue.

This installation is a pilot program that may be expanded to other streets in Menlo Park if it creates a positive impact on traffic flow.

Patel shared a few tips for staying safe on the streets: 

Motorists
• Expect to see bicyclists on the street
• Remember to give bicyclists three feet of space when passing
• Follow the rules of the road as if there were no shared lane markings

Bicyclists
• Use the shared lane markings to guide where you ride within the lane
• Remember not to ride too close to parked cars
• Follow the rules of the road as if there were no shared lane markings

California law states that a person riding a bike on a highway has all the rights that a vehicle driver does.  They also are subject to the same traffic laws that govern cars, including financial penalties for violating speed limits and failing to stop at stop signs. 

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Andrew Boone August 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM
A long-awaited improvement for traffic safety on Menlo Avenue and University Drive. Due to the presence of parallel-parked vehicles, those streets are too narrow for a vehicle and bicycle to safely share side-by-side. The sharrows should help bicyclists ride more predictably, thus improving safety for everyone. Sharrows indicate to both motorists and bicyclists the safe and legal location for bicycles in narrow lanes. Bicyclists must normally ride on the right-edge of the roadway, but are not allowed to do so in "substandard width lanes", according to California Vehicle Code Section 21202 (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm).
MOz August 22, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I really hope this makes cyclists more predictable. One second they are following the rules of the road then at a stoplight/sign or intersection they magically become a pedestrian on wheels.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Andrew, how many feet is considered substandard?
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Meredith, it's hard to say whether it will.
Andrew Boone August 22, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Meredith, I hope so too - I'd like to figure out some way to measure whether or not the sharrows have increased safety after they're installed but I'm not sure how. Maybe count the number of bicycles using the sidewalk vs the street before and after the sharrows are installed to see if the sharrows reduce sidewalk riding? Exactly what unsafe behaviors of bicyclists at intersections have you noticed that we could somehow measure to see if the sharrows reduces them?
Andrew Boone August 22, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Vanessa, The California Vehicle Code only defines a "substandard.width lane" as "a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane." Section 21202 (a)(3). Many interpret this to mean that, in each case, it is the bicyclist's responsibility to decide whether or not a lane is wide enough to be shared side-by-side with vehicles. This depends on many factors, including the speed and volume of passing vehicles, surface conditions on the right-hand edge of the roadway, and the speed, skill, and experience with riding in vehicle traffic of the bicyclist. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities recommends that lanes have least 14 or 15 feet of usable width in order to for vehicles and bicycles to safely travel side-by-side. 14 feet where there aren't vehicles parked or any other hazards on the right-hand edge of the roadway, and 15 feet where there are parked vehicles or other hazards. So 15 feet would be recommended by this guideline for Menlo Avenue and University Drive. (http://www.industrializedcyclist.com/aashto.pdf, page 17). Menlo Avenue and University Drive each have only 12 feet of usable lane width.
Alan Dale Brown August 23, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I understand many people don't understand the meaning of sharrows. In San Francisco, they have a sign that makes it as clear as possible: "Allowed Use of Full Lane". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SF_BIKE_Lane_SIGN.svg
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 12:14 AM
If my memory serves me correctly, there's a sign similar to that one on Sand Hill where it intersects with Alameda.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I see. Thanks for the precise clarification. Re: the responsibility of deciding whether a lane is wide enough. Indeed the burden of assertion often falls on the smaller traveler. Maybe that's why people tell me that they think cyclists are aggressive. In a slightly related matter, did you ever finish your rogue traffic pattern study?

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