The incredible disappearing sharrows, part two

Now you see them, now you don’t.

Just days after sharrows magically reappeared in Westwood — after being covered up in a massive failure of communication between two city agencies — it’s happened again.

Only this time, it’s a good thing.

According to an email I received on Wednesday, Torrance joined the recent rush to put sharrows on the streets this month — to the delight and disappointment of local cyclists.

Delight, because shared lane markings have proven exceptionally popular with many bike riders, indicating to drivers that we have a right to the road.

And to the lane.

Nice try, but this is just so wrong in so many ways.

Disappointment, because the markings were placed in entirely the wrong location — in the bike lane and well out of the traffic lane. And worse, they indicated that cyclists should ride directly in the door zone, rather than positioning riders outside it, as the marking are intended to do.

Maybe someone in the city’s Public Works Department saw the pretty bike and chevron design in another nearby town, and thought they’d look lovely on the streets of their own town. Or maybe they just wanted to be trendy, like everyone else here in SoCal, and didn’t want to get left off the sharrow express.

Problem is, they clearly didn’t research the hows and whys and — most importantly — wheres before they put paint on the street.

I’ll let my correspondent take it from here, quoting from the email he sent to the Public Works Department just last Saturday, with a copy sent to the city’s mayor.

Shared Lane Markings (aka “sharrows”) have been incorrectly installed on streets in the City of Torrance.

According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Shared Lane Markings are not to be used in designated bicycle lanes and, on streets with parallel parking, should be placed at least 11 feet from the curb.

The recently installed “sharrows” on Torrance Blvd (in designated bicycle lanes) and those on Anza Avenue (less than 11 feet from the curb and in the “door zone”) are nonconforming, exposing the city to possible liability should a bicycle rider be injured.

While the City of Torrance is to be applauded for its bicycle friendly efforts, the use of Shared Lane Markings should be in accordance with the MUTCD.

Under that black paint lies an unlamented misplaced and swiftly removed sharrow.

The response was surprisingly swift.

When he went out for his ride on Wednesday, he passed one of the locations where sharrows had been placed on Torrance Blvd.

And he was surprised to see that the offending pavement markings had already been painted over,  just five days —and only three business days — following his email. Evidently, it doesn’t hurt to copy the mayor’s office when you complain.

As he put it:

Better no sharrows than ones in the door zone.

………

As if people didn’t already think most cyclists are law-breaking scum.

The LAPD hosted a news conference Wednesday evening to announce that, despite improved relations with the cycling community, there are certain biking behaviors that just won’t be tolerated.

Like corking intersections. Riding on the wrong side of the road. Or swarming a grocery store parking lot, drinking beer and smoking pot, and riding bikes through the aisles of the store, scattering shoppers in your wake.

As Brent wrote in an email Wednesday,

…it’s like the new “skateboarding” — hanging out with your friends, skateboard in one hand, joint in the other. But it sure does tar the rest of us just trying to get to our destination by bicycle.

Leaders of the local bike community are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again at Critical Mass this Friday. And the police will be on hand to make damn sure it doesn’t.

Tolerance only goes so far.

And patience has clearly run out.

………

Damien Newton breaks the news that Rita Robinson may be leaving her position as LADOT General Manager to take a high-level position with the county. Interesting timing, as it comes at the same time that New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, a graduate of Occidental College, is rumored to be having trouble with her new, less-bike-friendly boss.

Maybe this is Mayor Villaraigosa’s opportunity to demonstrate that he really is the bike community’s new BFF, and bring her back home to L.A.

………

LADOT Bike Blog sums up its excellent series on where you can and can’t ride on the sidewalk in L.A. County. And concludes by saying it just shows there’s still work to be done.

If bicycles are supposed to be considered vehicles with responsibilities and rights equal to automobiles, like CVC 21200 states, then bicyclists deserve to have rules for their operation that are at least as uniform as the rules for operating an automobile.

The LA County Sidewalk Riding series proves, if nothing else, that we’ve still got a ways to go in that regard.

………

Villaraigosa offers Angelenos a personal invitation to attend CicLAvia on 10/10/10. Gary says when someone steals your bike, you can always rollerblade. Here’s what you can look forward to at next month’s Tour da Fat. A Fresno mother pleads for justice in the hit-and-run death of her son. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske discusses liability for road hazards, saying you may not be at fault for that fall; something you might want to remember, considering we have the 2nd worst roads in the U.S. The search continues for the schmuck driver who fled the scene after hitting two cyclists in rapid succession in Portland. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood looks back on Tuesday’s Distracted Driving Summit, saying distraction-related crashes are 100% preventable. A reputed Lance Armstrong accuser testifies before the Grand Jury investigating him here in L.A.; is it truth or sour grapes? Top young pro Taylor Phinney blows off Lance and signs with BMC. How to ride in a paceline. If you want to get away with murder, use a car instead of a gun. Canadian TV asks if enough cyclists use Vancouver’s new bike lanes to justify their existence, while a writer says the city’s cyclists are their own worst enemies. An English cyclist was five times over the legal drunk driving limit when he was killed in a collision. A British rider asks for advice on how to make her longer bike commute more fun. A rare, 130-year old tricycle is stolen from a Brit bike charity. Researchers say traffic jams are caused by a combination of aggressive and/or timid drivers; link courtesy of @Metro Library. A different approach to Budapest’s Critical Mass works better than expected.

Finally, the inevitable far-right backlash begins against Wednesday’s Car-Free Day; evidently, it’s another left-wing plot, just like bike sharing.

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