The Case of the Disappearing Sharrows

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Less than three months after they appeared on Seventh Avenue in Times Square, some of New York City’s first sharrows are well on their way to disappearing. And so you have to wonder: Can the city’s commitment to 200 miles of new bike lanes in three years be meaningful if this is their condition so soon after they were painted? Looks like another argument for physically separated bike lanes.


Is this road meant to be shared with unicycles?

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  • Steve

    Thanks, Biker H. I had the same thought when I passed over these a few weeks ago. When the sharrows are standalone traffic devices (without dashed white line separating vehicles or signage), the loss of the decal is the loss of everything. This stretch should not count in the promised 200 miles until redecaled (properly). Those bollard-separated pedestrian areas are looking pretty good.

  • P

    It sort of suggests there isn’t too much sharing going on.

  • mfs

    I think this is worth a news story. I wonder what DOT’s response would be?

  • ddartley

    Actually, P, I think the fading DOES indicate the kind of “sharing” that sharrows are supposed to invite–sharrows, I believe, are a “calming” device, as opposed to a “segregating” device.

    HOWEVER… those sharrows, which I ride past about every other day over the course of a year, are like polite, meek, little whimpers against the sound of a raging symphony orchestra, and have ZERO–absolutely zero–effect on traffic in Times Sqaure. To point out one of their many flaws, that stretch of Seventh Ave. is 100% bumper-to-bumper during rush hours, so drivers can’t even see the sharrows at all, for all the other cars they’re sandwiched against.

    I’m gonna be Johnny One Note again, but sharrows as they appear in NYC are generally useless. The sharrows from another city (Berkely I believe) pictured on this site are so different from the ones here that it’s almost like they have ’em and we don’t. The ones in Berkeley are HUGE, placed meaningfully, and contain text.

    Correct me if I’m wrong: the supposed intent of sharrows is to say, “Motorists: accommodate bikes in your midst.”

    SOOoooo, how about instead of sharrows (which are almost invisible even BEFORE they’re rubbed off in one day), put up a huge sign at former sharrow locations that says, “Motorists: accommodate bikes in your midst”? Hmmm, actually, that would be useless, because in the congested conditions at that location, anyone on a bike is already skilled and bold enough to be squeezing through cars. So a sign in an area like that would be useless, and so, therefore, are sharrows.

    I guess the point I keep getting near in my grouchy comments about bike lanes and sharrows is that “bike infrastructure,” in the form of markings and signage, can and must be much more conspicuous on the road than it currently is (polite, meek, and often ineffectual), and must be accompanied by a City campaign to inform the public of the meaning of the physical and legal changes. (For example, come on, isn’t the NYC sharrow design just a LITTLE ambiguous? Like, doesn’t it look more like “bikes go this way” than “share the road?”)

    I’m sure the City, with the right leadership, could get it done. And I submit that it can be done without totally screwing over motorists (not that I’d mind much if it did….).

  • Eugene

    I share some of ddartley reservations about sharrows. I live in Brooklyn, and I have begun to ask my self whether we gained sharrows on 5th Ave. or simply lost our bike lane? I think it is a nice ideal that drivers share the rode with cyclists, but I don’t feel like 5th Ave. in Brooklyn has become a cyclists boulevard. I think segregation is the way to go in regard to bikes and cars, ideally physically separated. Sharrows are easily ignored by drivers.

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