Flashback Friday – Adelaide: Sharrows

They are fairly common nowadays across Christchurch, but it wasn’t that many years ago that sharrow markings on shared cycle streets were a new concept in the city. And at the time, we sought some inspiration from overseas places that had rolled them out already, like Adelaide. This post (originally from June 2014) summarises a few of the interesting treatments:

A few months ago we mentioned how sharrows (“share arrows”) were starting to be trialled in a few cities around New Zealand. While in Adelaide for Velo-City Global recently, I got the chance to have a look at (and ride past) some sharrows that are being trialled there too.

Sharrows: when a car is parked, this is where you ride

Sharrows are usually marked to designate cycling routes on low-volume streets. Normal bike lanes wouldn’t make much sense here, but sharrows allow riders to recognise that this is still a bike route. And they have the added advantage of also indicating an appropriate position to pass parked vehicles.

First ingredient needed: a quiet street

The sharrow markings also provide a useful visual cue to motorists to (a) expect to see people biking along here, and (b) expect to see them not necessarily hugging the kerb. I suspect that they also provide a slight speed calming effect on traffic.

Part of the Mike Turtur Bikeway south of Adelaide CBD

Adelaide have been trialling these sharrow markings since last September. The routes include the Outer Harbour Greenway to the northwest of the CBD and the Mike Turtur Bikeway to the southwest. The streets where they are being trialled are generally very quiet (although some of them have a bit of parking near shops and train stations), so it felt very comfortable to happily ride pretty much in the middle of the streets where the sharrow markings were.

Sharrows on the Outer Harbour Greenway, northwest of the CBD

What do you think of these sharrow implementations?

4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday – Adelaide: Sharrows”

  1. Anecodotes aren’t data, yadda yadda, but my personal experience of sharrows is not good. Too often motorists drive aggressively when you take the lane, despite the sharrow. They very much do not want to share and some will let you know with their horn, by tailgating, or passing too close when they think they can get away with it.

    In saying that, most of these experiences happened in Wellington, on Featherston St, and by the Kelburn viaduct. In Christchurch the only sharrow I can think of off-hand where I regularly ride is the blocks of Colombo St around Cashel… and there, the traffic is genuinely slow enough it doesn’t seem to cause much bother.

    1. The Featherston St sharrow markings in Wellington were part of the original trials around NZ and it’s fair to say that the conclusion was that this site is actually far too busy to really meet the criteria for using a sharrow (in fact, I’d say that they wouldn’t fall into the acceptable range of traffic speeds and volumes given in the NZ guidelines for sharrows subsequently developed). You need to pick a site with sufficiently low traffic volumes and speeds – or change the street to create these conditions…

    2. Colombo Street near the overbridge/Cashel Mall gives a cyclist all the fun of waiting at red lights, in a line with cars, without the protection.

      There’s not enough room to ride up the side to the front, so frankly its the worst of everything. I’d take Manchester or even the one-way streets in preference to Colombo. Heck even Fitzgerald feels safer !

      1. One of the reasons that the reconstructed Hereford St got cycle lanes was because the pre-quake Hereford St rebuild (featuring just a shared lane) was a nuisance for riders being stuck in amongst other slow traffic. Central Colombo St is at the top end of what I’d call comfortable traffic volumes to share (in fact, I never understand why so much traffic even bothers to crawl along there…); reducing the incentives to drive there (e.g. stopping the ability to drive from one side of town to the other along Colombo) would help improve the environment…

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