If you have ever owned or currently traverse via bicycle in Richmond, you have likely noticed these markings on the street:
These markings containing a double arrow above a bike icon are known as "sharrows", and boy, is Richmond full of them. A portmanteau of "share" and "arrow", a sharrow is to signal drivers and bike riders to 'share the road'.
Penny-pinchers love them, because it allows the city to save an incredible amount of money. The cost to install a sharrow per mile is can be as cheap as $1,000 per mile to install, where as bike lanes can cost as much as $60,000 per mile. From an economic standpoint, it makes sense.
However, having cars traveling as fast as 35 miles per hour in a city whereas bikes will be traveling about a third of that speed can cause headaches and tensions between car and bike drivers. Here are ten reasons why sharrows are ultimately dangerous and not beneficial:
- Increased risk of automobile–bicycle collisions
- Slowed down automobile traffic
- Discourages bicyclists from traveling
- Promotes cyclists to ride on sidewalk Let's stop and take an observation. Where would you rather ride a bike, this street or the sidewalk adjacent to it?
- Treats cyclists as secondary to automobiles
- Less likely for drivers to notice sharrow markings
- No safe area on roads for bicyclists
- Higher risk for cyclists than no biking infrastructure at all
When there is shared pavement between cars and bikes, as opposed to independent lanes for each mode of transportation, the risk of collisions and accidents between cars and bikes increases by as much as 50 percent. If anything, that number seems low.