Supersharrows?

Do you remember that shared lane lane with green painted along 2nd Street in Long Beach California way back in 2009?

The city of Oakland is apparently painting part of 40th Street with green. The East Bay Bicycle Coalition calls these Supersharrows, and wants to know what you think of them.

Supersharrows are essentially sharrows with a vibrant punch! These are not bike lanes where bicyclists have priority over cars, but rather a shared space for both users, with a visible reminder to driviers to look for bikes.

Ride the supersharrows and tell us what you think. If successful, Oakland intends to stripe more on streets such as MacArthur Blvd in the Laurel District, Harrison St toward Piedmont, Market St north of Adeline St, a couple blocks either way at Broadway & Grand, and Lakeshore Ave east of El Embarcadero.

Here’s Market Street Oakland as it appears now, and with a strip of green.

market-1

Update: You’ll see comments below that the green lane should be centered more in that right hand lane. I’ve since modified my rendering to better reflect what Oakland plans for Market, although I think I probably made the green portion a little bit too wide.

Green Lanes Oakland Market Street

21 Comments

  • September 17, 2013 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

    This seems a bit dangerous if it gives motorists the idea that they’re allowed to drive on green paint.

  • September 17, 2013 - 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I believe the opposite Mike. I feel that most motorists will think they can’t drive on it, which means that there will be a 10′ bike lane!!!
    That’s my hope anyway. I think these are great. I’m not sure if it’s the new “bikes can use fall lane” sign or the green paint, but I no longer get honked at on 40th St. Nor do people pass me super close, but rather switch lanes. I ALSO hope that this starts to get cars to understand that bikes can use all lanes, everywhere (although I fear sharrows and bikes can use lane signs give the impression that these roads are exceptions not the rule, I think they just need to actually teach how to deal with bikes in driving school).

  • September 17, 2013 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The original plan on 40th in Oakland was to make room for standard, right-side bike lanes by removing the median to widen the street, but the neighbors who had cared for plants in the median rejected the plan. A concept for a road diet was also squashed by the AC Transit bus system folks who were afraid a single lane in each direction would slow their service. After years of delays the “super sharrows” that are now implemented were proposed as a compromise, but not an ideal solution from anyone’s perspective.

    What I hope will happen is that the visibility of the treatment will draw more cyclists to use that street, regardless of any actual safety enhancements, which will then make it easier to advocate for separate and protected bike infrastructure down the line. If the super sharrows make the street safer at the same time then that’s a nice bonus as well, but I’m not counting on it.

  • Everett
    September 17, 2013 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Mike; seems like this will just sow confusion among people that are driving and not familiar with the history of this project or the reasons for the compromise. Everywhere else in the country a green lane means “bikes only.”

  • Grego
    September 17, 2013 - 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with several commenters here; these “supersharrows” violate the Principle of Least Astonishment. For cyclists’ safety, green-painted lanes should remain basically car-free, and drivers should never expect to be driving in a green bike lane.

  • Max Power
    September 17, 2013 - 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Also, I fear the right-of-center sharrow position will encourage close passes by motorists who do not fully change lanes. Why not center the sharrows in the lane?

  • Mark Dreger
    September 17, 2013 - 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Why not just use the green-back “super” sharrows used all over SF. It’s time to standardize (at least within regions, if not nationally).

    The SFMTA has been very careful to dash green paint wherever people are expected to drive over it, reserving solid green for dedicated bicycle space.

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  • September 18, 2013 - 8:02 am | Permalink

    Both Mike and Patrick are correct. Some motorists will believe this means they can drive on green. Other motorists will avoid the land, and resent cyclists for it. Some cyclists will believe the lane is reserved for them, and resent motorists who use it correctly.

    I dislike sharrows in general, since they have no legal meaning, This kind is even worse.

  • September 18, 2013 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Mark Dreger, the 40th Street super sharrows are smack dab in the middle of the lane, and not to the right. Here is a set of pictures I took of the actual implementation (however, please note that the first several pictures were from before the white sharrows were added in top of the green stripe):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/prinzrob/sets/72157635387495022/

  • September 18, 2013 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Sorry, my last comment should have been directed to Max Power, not Mark.

  • September 18, 2013 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    I was skeptical about the installation as well, but after riding on it for about a week I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised, as are most of the other cyclists I have head from who are riding it. Car and bus drivers who used to buzz cyclists here frequently are now increasingly changing lanes to pass, and cyclists who used to hug the door zone are now riding further left, from my observations. However, I’ll reserve my judgement until the data collection comes in regarding cyclists usage and lane position. I recommend any other skeptics to come try it out for themselves, maybe on their way from the MacArthur BART station over to the new Bay Bridge bike path.

    The City of Oakland will be striping additional green bikeways by the end of the year, in the form of dashed green paint in a bike lane “conflict zone” where it is crossed by another travel lane, as well as solid green in a dedicated bike lane which is flanked by a right turn lane to the right and a straight through lane to the left, to just make the bike lane stand out more as a bike-priority space. In this sense the super sharrows also follow this same concept, not as a “no-car zone”, but one where bikes have priority and car drivers should be on the lookout for them.

    If the idea is that green paint will somehow stop drivers from parking or driving in a bike lane, I would say that my experience in SF has shown that even this doesn’t work. Just look at the green lanes on Embarcadero, with cars, taxis, and trucks blocking them constantly. Only physically protected bike lanes will stop double parkers, but we can still use green paint to at least highlight conflict areas and bike-priority zones.

  • September 18, 2013 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Oakland’s draft guidance on using green paint in standard bike lanes can be found online here (although since this was released they have changed it to use dashed green paint in the conflict area, with an area of solid green paint on each end as a “landing zone”): http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/pwa/documents/agenda/oak039258.pdf

    I also recommended that they add hwy on and off ramps that cross bike lanes to their citywide locations map.

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  • AJ
    September 18, 2013 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    I think the more important question is does Market need four lanes of traffic north of Adeline? South of Adeline it does just fine with the two lane road diet. The same can be said of MacArthur in the Laurel District, which is two lanes north of 35th. Yes, this is another good tool in the toolbox, but is it being overutilized as a lazy alternative to road diets?

  • September 18, 2013 - 10:38 am | Permalink

    AJ, I agree with your comments in general, but would suggest using another word besides “lazy”. The understaffed and overworked Oakland planning staff spent years on a failed attempt to get bike lanes on 40th Street before proposing the current super sharrows installation.

    Meanwhile, in other parts of the city upper Broadway and East 12th Street are already moving ahead with road diets in order to fit buffered bike lanes later this year, and upper Adeline Street, Oak Street, Madison Street, 14th Street among others are moving forward on road diets in the very near future. However, these lane reconfigurations require community outreach, traffic studies, and traffic engineering which take time and money that the planning staff often does not have, or which would take away from implementing other potential projects.

    In some cases a decision has to be made as to whether we wait a decade to implement our preferred solution, or to stripe a less ideal configuration now with the option of upgrading it later. So far Oakland has been choosing to do the latter, with the intention of at least building out their bikeway network so more cyclists end up on the same designated streets increasing the “safety in numbers” effect. However, they also have a “bikeways 2.0″ plan on the back burner which can also be implemented when easier opportunities present themselves.

  • September 18, 2013 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    From what I understand a lane reduction was in the works, but AC Transit BRT planners nixed that idea – they want to retain that extra lane each way for their buses.

  • jd
    September 18, 2013 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    Seems like they just need to remove a lane of traffic and add a separated, buffered cycle track. I mean, that’s pretty much what this is turning into but without the confusion of making drivers think they can drive in green lanes. As others have said, I really think cars should start associated green lanes with “bikes *only*”. I can already see the headline now: “Motorist gets confused by green bike lane and hits cyclists”. And of course, it will be an “accident” because the motorist will claim they were confused, just like when motorists claim they got confused by the pedals and hit the gas instead of the brakes and therefore they are absolved of any punishment.

  • September 18, 2013 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    I agree with Mark Dreger’s comment, I hate to see Oakland garble the rhetoric of bikespace color that we’ve been working out (Salt Lake City and Long Beach both made this same goof five years ago) — extending the long-established “solid vs dashed” principle for lane striping, continuous green means “cars stay out” and dashed green means “cars may pass through” — dash the green to express shared space and run the green solid to express “bikes only” and we’ll get everyone on the same page sooner . . .

  • September 18, 2013 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    “Principle of Least Astonishment” is the philosophy of 1960s traffic engineering and results in faster traffic and more danger for cyclists (and pedestrians). Modern traffic safety creates a perception of “interest and uncertainty” to the road to force everybody to slow down and watch what they’re doing.

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