Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not everyone is Sharrowing the Love

I have to say this morning when Laura and I saw the Sharrows, I felt a strange warm burning sensation in my chest. At first I thought it was cardiac problems, but I just had my physical and checked out OK. It dawned on me that the strange sensation was civic pride. The city did good this morning...but they've just begun.

I happened to have my Flip camera with me and decided to do a little M.O.S. interview with Charlie as they were painting the sharrows. About 30 seconds in, an upset and confused Belmont Shore resident interrupted and vented his frustration at the bold green stripe. The paint isn't even dry yet, mind you.

Not everyone is sharrow-ing the love, but that's to be expected. I wrote a letter to the city on May 15th expressing concern about some backlash from the misinterpretation of the sharrows. Hopefully, the city will make these messages clear to help calm people down.

(Excerpt from letter....)
I've been communicating with DeLong's office re: the Sharrows on 2nd. I really urge that when you guys roll them out and do the press releases you make the following points very clear:

-those lanes were "sharable" by bikes before the sharrows were being put in
-the new sharrows do not take away any rights from motorists NOR do they give bicyclists any special rights, they are just very bold and large visual indicators that bikes can already be legally on the road and they invite cyclists that may not know that right to be on the road.
-the placement of the sharrows (presumably in the middle of the lane) is where the cyclist SHOULD ride, out of the door zone. (Will we have an opportunity to preview their placement to ensure they are indeed out of the door zone?)

Gary has said he has already gotten some blow back from some constituents, most likely because they feel like cyclists are being given special rights or an unfair allocation of road resources. I think to mitigate this response the existing road rights of cyclists should be discussed. This also will start to spread the idea that bikes are allowed on ALL streets in Long Beach (which is important because it will prevent others from getting unfair tickets).

I'm going to defer to Dan and Chris if they have anything to add, but I think we're all in agreement that it's important to note these things, so motorists understand that 1) we're not taking anything away from them 2)bikes are allowed to ride on roads where there isn't the benefit of sharrows as well.



bern said...

This is great Russ...Mary and i watched and LOL!

fred said...

What a riot! One could not have scripted the bystander's reaction any better. "I won't be riding in the street!" That might change when he sees that it is truly the safest place to ride.

All the other traffic stuck during the construction/painting process will likely note the bike symbols too.

I'm impressed to hear that "this is what the bicyclists wanted," since that means that there are educated and trained cyclists in that city!

Jeanine said...

Russ, this video is hilarious. I want to commend you on the fine activism you've done for cyclists. It may take time for people to adapt to such "crazy" new ideas, but I think in time the sharrows are going to be awesome for cyclists and drivers. And I know it will make the sidewalks safer!

Anonymous said...

As a board member of The Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail in the Inland Empire, I am thrilled with this developement and your coverage of it. Bicyclists' in this state have been viewed as an obsticle to drivers for too long. I have had stretches of years that I commuted by bicycle and wish that I could do it now. Please continue the effort of covering cycling needs, events, and concerns. The interrupting bystander is probably just as arrogant when he is on "his" bicycle and people drive too close to him. Cudo's to Long Beach and to all who try to use peddle power to deal with the economy, fuel crises, and our ever-expading waiste lines.