It’s official: Sharrows coming to Colorado Avenue

       Small, recently painted white X's in the right-hand lane mark the spots where sharrow symbols will be affixed to the pavement of West Colorado Avenue.

A westbound vehicle on Colorado Avenue between 11th and 12th streets nears one of the "X' marks that City Traffic Engineering recently painted into the right-hand lane. In such cases, X marks the spot where the city plans to affix a sharrow symbol sometime in the coming weeks.
Westside Pioneer photo

       In all, 226 symbols - each displaying a bicycle logo and a double arrow to emphasize where bikes can ride - will replace the X's in both directions along a roughly 4-mile route. It will consist of Hancock Avenue from Costilla Avenue to Pikes Peak Avenue, Pikes Peak from Hancock to Cascade Avenue and Colorado from Pikes Peak to 30th/31st Street, according to City Traffic Engineer Dave Krauth.
       Interviewed by phone June 15, he said he couldn't predict how soon all the symbols will be in place. However, a sense of favorable urgency was expressed by City Council members at discussions in April and May, and the “X's” have been painted since city staff's press release June 9 announcing that the Colo- rado/Pikes Peak Avenue route was a go.
       Cost figures from the city show that each sharrow marking costs $212 to buy and install. This computes to a total of about $47,000 to put in the 226 Colorado/ Pikes Peak Avenue symbols. Of that total, about $21,000 is coming from private donations, with fundraising led by Tim Leigh, who convinced City Engineering to support the cost-sharing plan a few months before he was elected to City Council in April.
       Leigh described himself as “a full-on cycling advocate” who sees the installation on Colorado “as part of an on-going process toward making the city cycle-friendlier.”
       Asked about his fundraising this week, Leigh said, “I have raised about $18,000 (in the bank.) The goal was $21,000. I'm pretty confident we'll cover the costs.”
       The city's share was not identified in the 2011 budget, but Krauth clarified that his budget typically anticipates the likelihood of “special projects to work on,” and sharrows fall in that category. Thus, he said, “no additional money is being spent” on the project.
       The sharrow issue has been somewhat controversial this spring. At public meetings, numerous bicyclists have spoken in support of the symbols, saying they will make motorists more aware of their equal rights to the roadway and even reduce wrong-way bicycling.
       Also, with the symbol's double arrow positioned 4 feet into the lane from parked cars, cyclists who follow that arrow are less likely to get injured by suddenly opened car doors, City Public Works Team Leader Nick Kittle has said.
       But some citizens and neighborhood groups have questioned whether the city has fully studied sharrow impacts regarding such issues as safety, liability, costs, priorities and/or traffic flow.
       In May, the city developed a set of “guidelines” for the use of sharrows (also called “shared lane markings”), which notes that they are allowed under federal law and allows for staff to use “professional judgment” in case of application uncertainties.
       The city implemented a test segment for sharrows May 26 downtown along North Tejon Street between Cache La Poudre and Willamette.
       The June 9 city announcement included the statement: “While staff recognizes some stakeholders do not support the use of these markings in some of these locations, no fatal flaw was found which would indicate this was not an appropriate use of shared lane markings according to federal guidelines and our new local guidelines, In fact, Colorado Avenue includes several characteristics that indicate shared lane markings will be beneficial, including: on-street parking, inability to install dedicated bicycle lanes at this time, and existing bicycle traffic. The ability to leverage private and public funds for a partnership in this location was also a plus, in addition to the numerous positive comments staff received relative to this location.”
       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), one of the most vocal critics of the sharrow plan, agreed at its board meeting last week to send a letter to the city noting its concerns. These include a belief that the North Tejon test didn't last long enough, that public process was insufficient and that a better plan would be to direct bikes to “safe trails [such as the city's Midland Trail, now under construction through the Westside] rather than busy thoroughfares.”
       A 30th Street end point for the Colorado Avenue sharrow route would tie in with envisioned sharrow lanes north on 30th past the Garden of the Gods. That route has been proposed by the city's Bikeway Advisory Committee; also, Traffic Engineering has bought 174 sharrow markings that are earmarked for 30th, but a schedule for their placement has not yet been determined, Krauth said.

Westside Pioneer article