Sharrows On The Horizon
by Thomas MacMillan | Jan 21, 2010 2:04 pm
Posted to: Transportation
Motorists will soon find a new feature on city streets—a painted reminder to share.
Share the road with cyclists, that is.
“Sharrows” (pictured is one from Austin, Texas) are coming to New Haven, thanks to a proposal approved by the City Plan Commission at its monthly meeting on Wednesday night. The painted symbols are designed to indicate bike routes in cities and to warn cars that cyclists may need room.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a conceptual plan put forward by the Department of Transportation, Traffic, and Parking. The plan for “Downtown Bicycle Accommodations” includes short, medium, and long-term recommendations to make New Haven more bike friendly. Most of the short-term improvements, including sharrows, will be implemented this spring.
Sharrows will appear on State, Orange, Grove, Chapel, and George Streets, and Edgewood Avenue.
The recommendations come from a March 2009 report created by Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates. The city hired the company to look for ways to make New Haven better for cyclists. A year ago, the company solicited opinions from city cyclists. Read the report here.
The initial phase will cost between $100,000 and $125,000. In addition to sharrows, the city will be creating new bike routes through the city. New signs will be put in to indicate the routes. The longest of the new routes will connect downtown with Westville.
The first round of improvements will not included bike boxes, which were recommended by Nelson/Nygaard.
The project is funded by municipal bonding and by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
“It’s part of an effort to create culture of safety downtown,” said Traffic and Parking Director Mike Piscitelli on Thursday. Having clearly marked spaces for bikes “sends a very physical message” for drivers, he said.
Of course, it will be necessary to educate New Haven drivers, Piscitelli said. The city will be doing “quite a bit of outreach” to ensure that everyone understands the significance of sharrows, he said.
City Plan Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plan on Wednesday. East Rock Alderman Roland Lemar called it an “exceptional first step.”
Post a Comment
posted by: BETH on January 21, 2010 2:24pm
SHARING IS CARING! Now if only we could get maniacs who hate cyclists off the road.
Oh this is awesome. THANK YOU NEW HAVEN! This is a huge step in Bike/Pedestrian/Automotive commuting in our city.
posted by: Mark Oppenheimer on January 21, 2010 2:40pm
This is terrific news. I am grateful to Mike P. and all the people who have pushed for this to happen. It’s just a beginning, of course—New Haven needs more reliable (and on-time!) transit, like buses and commuter trains, and we need to make our major thoroughfares (like Chapel) two-way all the way through, so that drivers slow down and don’t waste fuel and time circling around blocks on one-way streets. But still, this is a great start.
Will this project encourage cyclists to obey traffic laws, or g will it just give them more room to do whatever they want?
The article mentions educating motorists, which I completely agree with, but will they also educate cyclists?
This is a great initiative from the city of New Haven. Mike Piscitelli and the City Plan Commission deserve a lot of credit for their progressive thinking about transportation.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on January 21, 2010 4:25pm
The street systems in this country are:
Parkways-car oriented for traveling moderate to long distances
Boulevards-car and transit oriented to travel across a metropolitan area with considerations to pedestrians
Avenues-car, transit and pedestrian oriented to travel and congregate within an urban area
Streets-pedestrian oriented to travel and congregate within a small urban area with considerations for cars
There are a large variation within each of these 4 main types of street systems.
All streets and avenues are a network of linear, interconnecting plazas meant to be used by people, cars, carts, buses and trolleys in a balanced way that does not endanger people who are congregating in the public realm, yet also does not impede movement. Ironically, since giving all our streets and avenues away to the automobile and “movement”, we have created a degree of immobility that was unheard of when all types of uses were permitted in streets and avenues. At the turn of the 20th century, there weren’t any stop lights, painted streets, pedestrian crosswalks, etc, yet there were many fewer accidents, continuous movement, slow speeds, and a general sense of order and safety in what would seem like disorder and danger.
Bikes sharing space with cars is not something new; cars taking over the streets is what is new.
This is a balanced avenue:
This is an unbalanced avenue:
NICE WORK MIKE! I wonder where the naysayers are now :). I admit I was feeling impatient, but I was confident you’d follow up with the Nelson/Nygaard report. Thanks a lot.
Great work, Mike P and everyone else who pushed for this high-visibility infrastructure.
I hear that sharrows will also be placed from Downtown into Fair Haven and Chatham Square: can someone confirm?
Good luck trying to paint those on the pot-holed ridden streets of New Haven!!
get ready for massive traffic problems. we can now all plan on a 3 mile an hour commute home. THANKS NEW HAVEN! Wouldnt a better idea have been to WIDEN THE SIDEWALKS AND ADD A BIKE LANE THERE!! Similar to Savin Rock. This is an awful idea.
Excellent. Sharrows are a great step forward for New Haven in terms of road safety.
I’m interested to see what the next step is.
This is really great news - my thanks to the activists and city folks who made this happen. I have two questions though… What about Whitney? Waiting for the bus there in the morning I see dozens of cyclists on that road and have seen raging drivers yelling that they “didn’t see any sign saying they could be on the road” Orange already has lanes - Whitney has nothing.
Also I just ask honestly - how much of the $125K is actually going to the supplies or labor necessary to put paint on asphalt. I really hope that this work isn’t sending money down the NHPD overtime hole.
Thanks, Mike and the city - this is great news. I pray that the Chapel St. markings will extend through Wooster square and all the way through Fair Haven to Front Street, a great destination neighborhood. I agree that education/outreach is key, both for cyclists and for motorists. Ads on buses are a good idea. Also be sure to educate the teenagers who don’t wear helmets, and who currently zig zag all over the road. They need to be taught, somehow, to share the road as well, though I am not sure how to do that… All in all, a wonderful move, though.
Chris, the massive traffic problem is entirely caused by automobiles. How many times—honestly—have you been held up in bike traffic? Now how many times have you been held up by car traffic? I can honestly say that I have been held up by cars probably 3 times a day on my bike. They simply can’t keep up with us because they are big & inefficient for the city.
Why should those of us in good physical shape, with energy & drive, be held back by the lazy people who drive their cars 3 blocks in New Haven? that’s what’s going on right now. At least a sharrow indicates that we have a right to be there.
Probably a good idea except that it encourages the “bike-jerks” who shout “take the lane” and weave between cars, ignore traffic lights, stop signs and the rules of the road in general.
Good idea for responsible bikists but will create serious new problems if the troublemakers are not educated and controlled.
Streever, The majority of the bikers in new haven are NOT in good shape. Most teeter back and forth trying to keep their balance as they struggle down the street at a snails pace. Unless you are able to peddle at the posted speed limit, you should stay the hell off the road! There are speed minimums too, buddy! And WHY CAN’T we put a bike lane on the sidewalks for the children and the elderly (and others who ride at 3mph) who ARE A DANGER TO THEMSELVES AND TO EVERYONE ON THE ROAD. New Haven is going the wrong way about this (as usual.)
posted by: LeeCruz on January 22, 2010 9:06am
Thank you to Mike and the whole team at Traffic, Parking and Transportation, just wondering when we will see the sharrows on Lombard Street. Many residents of Chatham Square and Upper State Street have expressed interest in a bike lane connection between our neighborhoods on SeeClickFix,com, If this is not possible then sharrows please.
Chris: ... There are no speed minimums on New Haven streets, for that matter.
Then we’ll look at how often your problem is caused by you driving too fast between red lights…. :)
Even at my poorest physical shape I have no problem pedaling at 15 mph and staying ahead of the traffic. The cars are backed up forever. I don’t make anyone wait, but they sure do slow me down, because I have to use the same stupid red light system they use.
Why? I won’t kill anyone if I go when it looks safe to me, but the law requires me to use a safety feature for cars. Same thing with pedestrians. We’re being held up by the slow poke automobiles.
Chris, you’re going the wrong direction on this, but I don’t hold it against you. Try to ride a bike around New Haven & we’ll see what you think after a week.
Honestly why do you drive around New Haven? Do you have to? If not, then I wouldn’t complain.
As a point of fact, the speed limit is an upper limit, a maximum and not a minimum or a lower limit. To the best of my knowledge, the only roads with posted minimums are interstates and other limited-access highways where such limits are entirely appropriate. Also, regarding children and the elderly: I do agree that children riding for fun do not belong in traffic, but let’s be clear that slow-moving cyclists do not present much of a danger to anyone. Dangers are more properly attributed to their sources, and it’s the inattentive driver, the excessive speed, the mass of a motor vehicle that creates risk and danger for more vulnerable road users.
Chris, you seem to be suggesting that a majority of cyclists in town are barely able to control their bicycles. I doubt your numbers, but never mind that right now. What about the drivers who are barely in control of their cars? They’re moving so quickly they can’t safely come to a stop when lights are turning yellow or red (thus creating this mythical “dilemma zone” that opponents of red-light enforcement cameras carry on about), they can’t stop behind the stop line or before the crosswalk, they’re texting, talking, watching their GPS devices (have all these people forgotten how to get to work? where they live?), fiddling with their iPods—and in general, they are poorly prepared to respond to a dynamic urban environment. Who’s really the danger here?
Every day as I “teeter at a snails pace” on my bike, I see the same people several times along my route. They blow past me and then I catch up with them as they wait at each light. They speed off when the light turns green and I just see them again at the next light. It’s hilarious.
The speed limit is 25 - perfectly appropriate for an urban area. If you expect to be able to drive 60 mph downtown you will be frustrated - but don’t blame it on me or my bike riding….
Well I just hope that when the traffic light camera’s go up they can id and ticket a biker who thinks stop lights are only for cars. And please no shallows on State Street between the highway ramps the sidewalks on the east side are wide enough for a two way bike path and the foot traffic is below minimum.
Its a win-win…bikers will love it and just think of the cathartic thrill bike-haters will get constantly running over the symbols.
“is funded by municipal bonding and a grant from the Federal”... Are you kidding me? The City of New Haven is going to BORROW money, SELL bonds, to paint bikes and arrows on select roads? OK can’t afford it this year? So the City will increase its DEBT for future taxpayers to pay back? Well, OK by me, I no longer have property in New Haven! Ha! BTW, do cyclists have less rights in the lane without the paint job?
A major cause of cars speeding and running red lights is the idiotic light system. Many lights turn green and before the car is out of first gear they stop at another light so they speed hoping to make it before the light turns red. This affects cyclists as well causing many to look and go. Traffic lights in the middle of the night have the same long cycle as during peak hours resulting in drivers going through red lights and turning right on red where it’s not allowed, developing bad habits that carry over to other times of the day. None of this is excusable, but until the traffic design takes into account human behavior there will be a lot of angry and frustrated drivers which endanger cyclists and pedestrians.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on January 25, 2010 11:26am
Good points, but New Haven isn’t Los Angeles. That vast majority of the city’s streets were laid out prior to the period where The US’s mass transit was private individual automobiles. With the hundreds of millions of dollars poured into the city during the redevelopment era to address the issue of how to turn pre-automobile oriented streets into automobile-oriented streets. When we look at how many billions have been spent since then on road systems within New Haven ($10 billion for the new i-95 bridge) and how little we seem to get in return for the amount we spend, I think it becomes pretty clear that no amount of money can change New Haven into something it will never successfully be-a car oriented city. Besides, there is no capital left to invest in road infrastructure (i-95 is a huge mistake that we can’t afford); it is an investment that requires inevitable future investment-repairs, repaving, widening, rebuilding, etc-that is more expensive. ALso, constructing car-oriented roads does not produce any money it only consumes it. The logical thing to do would be to use our streets as they were intended to be used-by trolleys, walking, biking, and minimal automobile usage.
There is actually the ability to return our streets to their previous design through narrowing, repaving with brick, rebuilding route 34, tearing out the highways, improving the parkways, etc because designing people/transit-oriented streets do generate money. In the 19th century, Paris was able to fund a massive demolition and construction project without any tax money. Enormous linear areas of the city were demolished and grand boulevard were constructed, which basically overnight took Paris from a dark ages medieval city to an urban utopia. This was all paid for by the money that was made through selling off the properties that were lining the boulevards to developers, who built ground floor retail and office and apartment buildings, which quickly sold at a premium because they were so pleasant and desirable.
The exact opposite happens when streets are designed around automobiles, property values drop drastically due to the effects of too many cars.
Chris, why do you need to speed through new haven? the city isn’t that big, the downtown area is only a few miles. If you drive 25 mph and stop at all the traffic lights, and slow down for the occasional bike, you can still get through most parts of the city in 10-15 minutes. You can go 65 or whatever on the interstate but downtown new haven has a lot of people in a small area, cars, pedestrians, and bikers. We all have to look out for each other. I honestly think if you keep track during your next drive through new haven, you will find most of the time you are slowed up is by traffic lights and other car traffic, slowing up for the occasional bike isn’t going to cost you that much time. If you took every bike off the road and made them drive a car instead it wouldn’t necessarily help the problem, you’d just be stuck behind a few more cars at each traffic light.
Are the sharrows really going to be spaced every hundred feet, like in this photo, or is the city doing a half-hearted version with like one per block?
posted by: BETH on January 29, 2010 1:06pm
@ GRAND LIST in case you have been living in a cave all cities use bonding to pay for stuff, and often it is much LESS AWESOME than bike lane painting. often its crap like more cars for the municipal fleet, computer technology, etc. Bike lanes are a brilliant use of this money. Taxes in large cities are high for tons of reasons that go beyond painting bike lanes. Sounds like New Haven is better off without your tax dollars…now why don’t we increase parking costs so when you drive into the city to do something awesome that your suburban sleepspot doesn’t offer, the city of nh can collect some $ from your oil chugging habit and your use of roads that get repaired with taxpayer $.