Bike sharrows fall short after peddled to last 7 years

Bike sharrow on Conneaut Avenue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

Some of the bicycle graphics on Bowling Green streets look more like unicycles after just one winter of wear and tear.

Last year, in an effort to make streets more bicycle friendly, the city took the step of having sharrow graphics placed on Conneaut Avenue and Fairview Avenue.

The symbols serve as a reminder that under the Ohio Revised Code, a bicycle on the roadway has the same rights as a vehicle.

City officials decided to go with the more expensive sharrow option of thermo-plastic graphics which cost about $300 a piece. Painted sharrows would have been much less expensive, at $30 to $40 each, but would not last as long, the city was advised.

So the city was counting on the sharrows lasting longer than paint on the pavement, said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett.

“It would if it weren’t for the snowplows,” Fawcett said last week.

Director of Public Works Brian Craft said he contacted the manufacturer about replacing or repairing the sharrows.

“It is our expectation that they will work with their subcontractor to get them corrected, and at no cost to the city,” Craft said. The Shelly Paving Co. had subcontracted the pavement markings to Zimmerman Paint Co.

There were 69 sharrows applied to Fairview and Conneaut avenues last year. At $300 a piece, that added up to $20,700. Most of the sharrows have peeled off areas.

“About 75 percent are in varying degrees of being peeled up,” Craft said.

It was suggested to Craft that the sharrows would not have been scalped off the pavement if the city’s snowplows weren’t run so close to the roadway.

But Craft informed the company that the snowplow blades have to run along the pavement in order to clear snow from the streets.

The manufacturer estimated the sharrows would last about seven years, “under normal traffic.” Snowplow traffic is normal in Bowling Green, Craft said.

“Anytime you put something down on the road, you know it’s going to take a beating,” Craft said.

The city has had a different experience with the thermo-plastic markings on streets for school zones and crosswalks.

“The snowplows didn’t affect them the same way as the sharrows,” Fawcett said.

Both Craft and Fawcett surmised the sharrows are more susceptible to scalping since the graphics are thinner than the crosswalk markings.

“We were hoping we wouldn’t have to replace them that often,” Fawcett said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s one of those things we’ll just have to work through.”

The sharrows are intended to show where on the road bicyclists are safest, which is in the lane and not along the curb. Most items that are hazardous to bicyclists can be found along the curb. As a result, if a bicyclist were to ride in that location on the road, they would be moving in and out of traffic. State legislation enacted last year requires motorists to pass a bicyclist with at least 3 feet distance.

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