^ the new sharrows on Broadway position bicyclists right behind cars that are backing up.
Over the weekend, the full length of Broadway was painted with much-anticipated “sharrows” – road markings indicating shared use by cars and bicycles. But wait – these sharrows are located immediately next to backing out cars. Is that where they belong?
The sharrows on Broadway are currently in the far-right of the lane, adjacent to diagonal parking, where visibility is at its worst for everyone. How many of us already back out of those spots with trepidation?
According to NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) Guidelines: “On streets with posted 25mph speeds or slower, preferred placement is in the center of the travel lane to minimize wear and encourage bicyclist to occupy the full lane.” That’s where they are on Spring and Thames, and where we expected to see them on Broadway.
People on bikes – and people in cars – will think that bikes are required to be that close to the cars. Therein lies the great danger. We ask that the City move the sharrows away from the parked cars to the recommended center of the traffic lane.
Where to ride: Bicyclists are cautioned to ride in the center of the lane on narrow streets such as lower Broadway, Spring, and Thames – away from the parked cars. Where bike lanes are present, as on America’s Cup and Memorial Blvd, use the bike lane unless cars, sand, debris or other hazards are in your path. Bike lanes and sharrows are guides, not requirements.
Bicyclists: Body language and communication are everything. Cars have horns and lights; you have arms, eyes, and voices. Always scan behind you and signal with your arms when merging or turning. Assume drivers have not seen you, until they signal their awareness. Use your voice to thank or alert other road users. Remember to stay off the sidewalks and always ride in the same direction as traffic.
Drivers: Please understand that bicyclists are required by law to be on the road, and are both allowed and encouraged to take the lane for our own safety. On Broadway, and in congested summertime Newport in general, everyone is forced to move more slowly than usual. Remember to give people on bikes enough room. No degree of frustration is worth putting someone in danger.
Put safety first. Ride and drive cautiously on busy Broadway. Be kind out there!