Door Zone Sharrows on the “New” South Grand? No!
The traffic lane here is 11 feet wide. This is NOT a lane that can be shared. This is not my opinion. The bible of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials puts the minimum width of a “sharable” lane at 14 feet. (There are many situations where even a 14-foot-wide lane cannot be shared by a cyclist and a motorist, but that’s another subject.)
Motorists do not drive in the door zone. They don’t drive in the door zone for the same reason that cyclists must not ride in the door zone: When someone opens a car door, you can get hit. In this day and age, that should be a “duh” statement. But apparently the people with the spray cans still don’t get it.
It is not simply the probability of getting hit by an opening car door, especially on busy Grand South Grand. These sharrows will encourage unsuspecting cyclists to “snake” between traffic lanes, setting them up for conflicts and danger with motorists turning both right and left. Door-zone sharrows, like door-zone bike lanes, give motorists the mistaken impression that this is where cyclists should be on the road. For safety’s sake, no!
While proceeding south on Grand, I ran into Rachel Witt, executive director of the South Grand Community Improvement District. Rachel has been working tirelessly all year to shepherd this project to completion, and she has been hearing criticism from all sides. Some of the most difficult comments are coming from cyclists who want a bike lane on the “New” South Grand.
Fellow Cyclists: In a city, every lane is a bike lane!
While Rachel and I were talking, we observed a Metrobus that stopped on Grand near Connecticut. It was rush hour and busy. Yet the other drivers simply proceeded with caution into the center turn lane and moved around the bus.
Everyone operating a slow-moving vehicle will receive the same courtesy, if they assert their place in the lane. When cyclists ride too close to the right edge of a road, they confuse motorists, who think the lane can be shared–and then scare them, when they realize it can’t. This leads to honking and incivility.
Rachel is not a regular cyclist, but she intuitively knew that it was not correct to place sharrows on the right edge of the traffic lane. She asked me where they should go.
If the City insists on painting sharrows on the “New” South Grand, the only safe place to put them is in the middle of the “through” traffic lanes. Short of this, it is better to keep the asphalt naked.