Main Street Sharrows
Making Beacon more bikeable.
Bikeable Beacon and Scenic Hudson has been advocating that the city of Beacon put sharrows on Main Street (and other thoroughfares of the city) for some time. I am working with Mark Wildonger of Scenic Hudson and Mark Roland of Bikeable Beacon to apply for a grant from the state to help underwrite some of the costs in getting the sharrows painted on Main Street.
What is a Sharrow?
Sharrow is short-form for “shared lane bicycle marking”. This pavement marking includes a bicycle symbol and two white chevrons and is used to remind motorists that bicyclists are permitted to use the full lane. There are no striped bicycle lanes on streets marked with sharrows. However, with or without marked sharrows, bicyclists are encouraged to travel on streets and follow traffic laws just as any other vehicle on the road. This includes bicyclists avoiding riding on sidewalks.
The Situation on Main Street
As you may be aware, bicycles are not allowed on the sidewalks in Beacon, although many continue to ride there. This is particularly dangerous on Main Street, where there is a great deal of foot traffic, and people entering and leaving stores with their doors right on the sidewalk. There are signs posted on Main Street indicating this, but they are regularly ignored. In fact, the city could issue fines for riding on the sidewalks, but I have never heard of such a ticket issued.
Bicyclists are allowed on Main Street, but today, many are reluctant to ride on the pavement because they believe it is either against the law (it isn’t), or that it is unsafe.
Sharrows have been found to increase safety. First, they indicate to car drivers and bicyclists that the pavement is the place for bikes, not the sidewalk. This reinforces the idea that the roadway is shared by bikes and cars.
Main Street is too narrow for marked bike lanes, which is why sharrows are a good solution. Note again that the placement of sharrows does not change the existing regulations for bike traffic on Main Street: they simply clarify the current rules in a direct and simple way.
The Project and The Town Council
We are applying for a grant that would allow us to place sharrows along Main Street from 9D to the Roundhouse (the intersection at East Main). These would run on both sides of the street, with a painted sharrow approximately every 250 feet.
The grant – if it is awarded – would provide $10,000 to cover expenses, awarded in the fall. We would not paint the sharrows until the spring, avoiding the snow season, and we expect that the paint would last a year or so before having to be redone.
We need the city’s approval, and one of the concerns expressed at City Council meetings on the subject is the cost of maintaining the sharrows in the future. We would like the city to consider the sharrows as just another part of the infrastructure of the city’s streets, like crosswalks and center lines. However, they are both novel and not mandated by law and custom. As a result, the City Council would like us, those advocating for the sharrows, to get an indication of public support for the project, and specifically, an indication that the public and Main Street store owners would support the future maintenance efforts, both costs and labor, if the City was unwilling to do so.
Mark Wildonger and I walked along Main Street yesterday and got the support of 10 or more store owners, like Bank Square Coffee House, Beacon Cycles, Mtn Tops, Hudson Beach Glass, Max’s, The Hop, Homespun, and others.
The sharrows initiative will be voted on this Monday, 6 August 2012. We’d like to be able to show the City Council that this initiative has broad support, so please sign our electronic petition here, and ask your neighbors to sign, too.