Photo of the Day: Central City Sharrows

Sharrows: share that space

The rebuild continues apace in the central city, and that includes the Accessible City transport plans. While some of that includes separated cycle facilities like those seen on Tuam St and south Colombo St, other parts rely on traffic-calmed (30 km/h) shared streets to get around by bike. So it was interesting to see these markings appear recently on Colombo St near Ballantynes:

Sharrows: share that space
Sharrows: share that space

As discussed before, sharrow (= “share arrow”) markings indicate places where motorists and cyclists share the same road space. Clearly the carriageway width shown isn’t wide enough for a bike to be alongside two lanes of traffic, so the trick is to just become part of the traffic and take the lane. That might seem a bit daunting for some riders, but in this location it’s actually pretty easy to do because no-one is travelling very fast (in fact, the only drawback might be you will get a bit frustrated having to crawl along with the cars…). The previous sharrow trials around NZ actually found that they reduced mean traffic speeds by 1-2km/h as well (which might not sound like much, but translates into a 3-5% reduction in serious crashes; it all adds up…).

Expect to see a lot more sharrow markings on neighbourhood greenway routes coming soon along the Papanui Parallel, Rapanui-Shag Rock, and Uni-Cycle Major Cycleways. And also around the other shared streets in the central city. In fact, the only intriguing thing about these new markings is the fact that, technically, sharrows haven’t been ratified for general use in NZ yet…

What do you think of these sharrow markings?

9 thoughts on “Photo of the Day: Central City Sharrows”

  1. Yep – biked through that stretch of Colombo St a few times now, it’s the cars that slow you down!
    Great to have the sharrows there

  2. Those would be useful on all rural roads, although a law that keeps cars a safe distance from cyclists – one that is well publicised – would probably do the same. If only those in Government, who have the power to do this, cared and looked after the vulnerable road users… Separated cycleways would of course be best, but that is too expensive in the short term. Oh and good driver education would help as well.

    1. As it happens, I am currently peer reviewing the research report from the NZTA study that has looked into a minimum overtaking gap rule. So you can probably expect to see more progress on this front in the coming months.

  3. I find them slow, because I have lost one of the main accelerators of cycling, which is filtering to the front. And this part of town is always backed up with cars.

    Does a sharrow say the cyclist must not take a lefting position, and must get in line with the cars? I’m unsure of the road rules and requirements.

    Having to wait in-line with the traffic is disconcerting – becoming the meat between two cars is not appealing, so I tend to position myself more to the side rather than in the middle of the car.

    I believe Sharrows have their place in narrow but *low* vehicle-usage roads. Colombo Street is not low usage by vehicles.

    1. Actually sharrows have no regulatory significance, they are simply there for information. So position yourself wherever you like (within the constraints of all the other Road Rules)

  4. Having been overtaken here whilst claiming the middle of the lane only to watch in horror as the vehicle realised another was coming toward it across the Hereford St intersection so pulled in front of me oblivious that I needed to get to the gutter quite quickly to allow him to let the other vehicle through, no idea my heart rate was 10 x his. Said vehicle then turned right into Hereford St against the no turning arrow. I understand the Police are concerned about this stretch of road, and intersection and rightly so .

    At least the sharrows give one confidence to take the lane, if there is any dispute you can smile and point to them.
    I have no issue with lining up with vehicles at the lights. Hopefully eventually traffic will realise that this area is so slow to transverse the city it will give up and go elsewhere.

    1. Actually google tells me that traverse would be more accurate to say than ‘transverse’. But then ‘go across the city ‘ or ‘ up and down Colombo St ‘ would be even more accurate.

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