The Department of Transportation takes on projects that they believe are very important to keeping our roads as safe as possible for everyone from driver’s, to cyclist and even passing pedestrians. It is important that our community embraces the changes made by the DOT and not only obey them but preach them as well, these changes are many times helpful in saving lives and making the daily drive home from work a better more peaceful experience.
The DOT has approved what is called a “sharrow” to be painted on the Bridge of Lions here in St .Augustine, Florida slated for March of 2012. So what is a sharrow? A sharrow is; the shared-lane pavement marking, used to enhance the safe travel of bicycles and motor vehicles in the same traffic lane. The sharrow helps position bicyclists on narrow lanes, where cars and bikes cannot travel side-by-side safely. It also guides bicyclist in the middle of the lane helping to reduce injuries from being hit by parked car doors.
Florida law allows bicycles to take the full lane in these types of cases which encourages safe passing by drivers and reduces wrong-way bicycling which if a head on collision does occur statistics show there is a 94% chance of death for wrong-way cyclist. To help keep our county safe we should all know these road laws, not just drivers but cyclist, who should conduct themselves as a vehicle on the road. As a cyclist you would rather be seen then ride by unnoticed, yet many students and adults alike decide to use the sidewalk as a cycle path when in reality this is more dangerous than being on the road. The reason this is so dangerous is because cars are not looking at the sidewalks when pulling in and out of places onto the road, they are simply looking left and right for traffic. The cyclist in the lane with the motor vehicle gets noticed by the driver however the cyclist on the sidewalk does not get noticed. The sharrow will help cyclist realize their right to be on the road as a vehicle.
Two different examples of how the sharrow will help are as follows: first, when lanes are too narrow to safely pass a cyclist, the cyclist MUST take full lane. As mentioned earlier a cyclist must take the full lane when passing parked cars in order to avoid open doors. Second, sharrows can also be found on wide lanes. A driver overtaking a bicycle must maintain a horizontal clearance of at least 3 feet between the car and bicycle, no matter the width of the lane. If the driver cannot maintain this 3 feet they SHOULD NOT attempt to pass the cyclist. Velo Fest: community initiative, the city of St. Augustine and the DOT are all joining in the movement to a better safer tomorrow where everyone is aware of the laws of the road and the reality that following these laws can at times be the difference between life and death.
Please be on the look out for posters in the downtown St Augustine area as well as on the Anastasia Island side of the bridge at local businesses. Velo Fest will also be passing out postcards with information on the new markings and how to maneuver properly with them. A huge thank you to Chris Ledew from DOT and Jenny Kubicki from Jacksonville Bicycle Coalition. The joint effort of everyone is making this a safer place every day.
Check out the poster HERE
Author: Lauren Pfeiffer