Sunday, January 29, 2012

SHARROWs on George Mason Drive

Arlington County recently repaved sections of George Mason Drive roughly around the area where it intersects Lee Highway.  George Mason Drive is a north-south connector in Arlington that happens to be labeled a bike route.  The official speed limit is 30 mph but there are stretches where motorized traffic will regularly exceed the speed limit.  When traveling south it has a moderate downhill grade which lets cyclists approach motorized vehicle speeds.  George Mason Drive also has homes, street parking, and many intersections making it a poor candidate for many alternative facilities.  I don't show them in the video below, but there are also SHARROWs for the moderate climb up to Lee Highway heading north.

In my opinion, Arlington County did a great job with the SHARROWs since they appear frequently, are centered in the lane, and are accompanied by bicycles may use full lane signs.  The lanes are too narrow to share laterally and the speeds cyclists can travel here make it necessary to maximize visibility in the center of the lane.  The signs and lane markings should decrease harassment and give cyclists some additional confidence to ride among traffic.  In the past two years, Arlington County has put in SHARROWs in several other locations that are also well designed.

video

For a higher resolution video, click here.  

For people unfamiliar with Arlington County, there are few north-south connectors since the county is divided by I-66 and Rte. 50 along with several lesser arterial roads.  Promoting efficient and safe cycling on these north-south connectors is good for a robust transportation grid.