Charlottesville Plans to Install Sharrows This Spring

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The city of Charlottesville is introducing a pilot program to improve bike safety around town.

It's a marking, usually in the middle of the road, that indicates motorists and bicyclists are sharing the street. The markings are often referred to as a "sharrow", an arrow-like design painted on a road to mark a bicycling route.

Water Street will be the first road designated as a sharrow in Charlottesville.

"There's clearly not enough room for bicycling and so we want to increase awareness and visibility," said Heather Higgins, Bike Charlottesville.

Donovan Blanche is an assistant traffic engineer with the city of Charlottesville and said sharrows are used on roadways where the speed limit is 35 miles an hour or less and where a bike lane can not fit.

"A lot of our roads, of course, were built a long time ago and bike lanes are five feet wide so a lot of geometrical constraints prohibit us from putting bike lanes," Blanche said.

Sharrows also help drivers safely pass bicyclists and help bikers stay clear of parked vehicles.

"It is a lane marking that will probably be in the middle of the lane that will show motorists, expect to see cyclists in the lane as opposed to off to the side," Higgins said.

Charlottesville is working to become more bicycle friendly. City Council recently increased funding for bicycle infrastructure by $50,000 in the 2012 Capital Improvement Plan for a total of $100,000.

"The more people on a bike the fewer people in a car and cars pollute. They take up space. They are bigger. They're noisy," Kristin Szakos, Charlottesville City Council, said.

The city of Charlottesville would like to expand sharrows to other roadways where a bike lane can not be used.