Cycling on the straight and sharrow

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer June 18, 2013 09:38 pm

“Sharrow” symbols, like the one shown above, will be painted on Railroad Street in the coming weeks. Photo courtesy of The Spec Department
“Sharrow” symbols, like the one shown above, will be painted on Railroad Street in the coming weeks. Photo courtesy of The Spec Department
The city of Brookings is joining the ranks of such cities as Portland, San Francisco and New York that have made safe passage for bikes a priority.

In the next few weeks, Brookings city workers will begin painting markings, known as “sharrows,” on Railroad Street, from Pacific Avenue to Alder Street. The markings are part of the city’s transportation plan and are intended to help make city streets safer for local and touring bicyclists, and raise motorists’ awareness of bicycle laws.

“This has been in the plan for awhile and we have been receiving complaints from bikers about safety issues on Highway 101 through the middle of town,” said Loree Pryce, the city’s public works development services director.

Specifically, sharrows are markings placed on pavement to indicate that bicyclists are also allowed full use of a lane. Unlike bicycle lanes, the symbols do not designate a particular part of the street for the exclusive use of bicyclists, Pryce said.

Sharrows can drastically increase safety by giving bicyclists more room to avoid the shoulder of the road or opening car doors, she said.

Railroad Street was chosen as a pilot street for the sharrows, and because it will give touring cyclists an alternative to the often congested Highway 101. 

“We want bikers to feel more safe and we want to motorists to know that bikers have a right to share the road,” Pryce said.

Seventeen sharrow symbols will be painted along the southbound lanes of Railroad Street. The city has purchased a stencil for the design and is currently seeking bids from local businesses to apply them. The cost will be less than $1,000, Pryce said.

She expected the work to be complete by the middle of July or sooner.

“This is the first of several phases. We hope to do the same thing on Easy Street and several other routes to the schools,” she said.