Sharrows: Panacea for Improving Bike Infrastructure or Placebo?

Cities across the country are embracing the sharrow as a quick and low-cost means of expanding their bicycle infrastructure, but in at least a couple of cities, bike enthusiasts are questioning their effectiveness.
June 14, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Craig Chester looks at why Miami's boom in sharrows needs to evolve or go bust. He questions whether the proliferation of the humble sharrow in Miami, in which a marking is painted in the center of a travel lane to indicate that a bicyclist may use the full lane, is actually impeding the creation of more substantial bicycling infrastructure city-wide.

"One of the loudest gripes with Miami's current bicycle infrastructure is the lack of connectivity, where lanes seemingly begin and end at random, forming an incongruous network. It's obvious that the sharrow seems to be the answer du jour. But how effective is this treatment and are they coming at the expense of better, safer facilities?"

Citing a recent study of the sharrows on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach that demonstrates "sharrows are probably doing very little, if anything, to encourage would-be riders to take to the streets," Chester argues that Miami needs to move on to building what Janette Sadik-Khan calls "hard miles" -- "bicycle lanes in the densest, most contested parts of town to achieve connectivity with the lanes that were easier to complete."

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Published on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 in Transit Miami
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