Eyes on the Street: Disappearing Sharrows

Can you spot the barely-visible outline of the former sharrow? 4th Street at Norton Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Can you spot the barely-visible outline of the former sharrow? 4th Street at Norton Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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Remember those sharrows that bike advocates worked hard to get the city adopt a decade ago? Seems like they’re fading away these days.

For the uninitiated, shared-use arrows “sharrows” are street markings that indicate lanes shared by bicycles and cars.

I’ve never been a big fan of sharrows – they seemed like the very least the city could do to try to make streets barely more bike-friendly, without actually doing much. I am glad they’re in the city’s toolkit – they have some uses, such as getting continuous bike facilites through short pinch-points.

The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition pushed L.A. for years to get the city’s first sharrows implemented. Finally, in 2010, LADOT installed them on several existing bike routes. When Mayor Villaraigosa directed LADOT to step up its bike facility mileage, scores of miles of sharrows started appearing – some on streets where bike lanes were approved and/or would fit.

Lately I’ve been noticing that sharrows have been disappearing. Three examples:

  • The roadway on 4th Street was recently resurfaced between Norton Avenue and Irving Boulevard in Hancock Park. The city painted a new stop line for cars, but the sharrow is missing. If you look closely (photo at top) you can make it out under a layer of new asphalt.
  • Further east on 4th Street – between McCadden Place and Highland Avenue, also in Hancock Park – the city of L.A. did a pilot section of concrete street repair. The new concrete looks great and feels smooth. The stop lines got re-painted, but that block’s sharrows completely disappeared.
  • In East Hollywood, on Rosewood Avenue between Heliotrope Drive and Berendo Street – part of the original CicLAvia route – there was some kind of work done where the street was opened up and sealed back. There’s a bit of sharrow remnant sticking out of the darker repaired asphalt.
Repaired concrete 4th Street between Highland and McCadden - no sharrows
Repaired concrete 4th Street between Highland and McCadden – no sharrows
L.A. City 4th Street (Highland to McCadden) concrete repair with no sharrows.
Rosewood Avenue at Berendo Street – can you spot the remnant of a former sharrow?

I am of two minds about this. Part of me says that bicycle activists need to pick our battles – and we definitely have bigger and better things to focus on. Maybe these wimpy sharrows should just fade away while we push for protected bike lanes, traffic calming, Vision Zero, etc.

On the other hand, part of me feels that if we let these bike facility markings fade away, then the bike lanes could be next…

Readers – what do you think? Have you been seeing L.A. sharrows disappearing in your neck of the woods? Where? What do you think should be done about it?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Sharrows are coming to Los Angeles! or are they?

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Image: Richard Masoner/Flickr What’s a sharrow ? Well, a sharrow is a lane marking that looks like a bicycle with a chevron on top of it.  Sharrows are used to mark streets as places where bicyclists and cars share the road.  The sharrow is painted where that it’s most safe for cyclists to ride in […]

Today’s Headlines

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Featured Headlines: Yesterday we linked to an article about LADOT’s plans for 20 miles of new Sharrowed Streets.  Late last night, Joe Linton wrote a pretty detailed takedown of the LADOT’s Sharrows plans.  Linton questioned whether the Sharrows would be counted as part of the mayor’s/city’s pledge to 40 miles of bike facilities a year […]