Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sharing the Way

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated Earthday at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach. One of the booths was proffering free copies of a magazine entitled "Momentum". As you might guess this is a publication for cyclists. Unlike many cycling magazine covers featuring lycra clad men grimacing under strain of epic rides, the current issue of "Momentum" features a couple of alternative looking (one has a bit of red dye in her hair) young ladies sporting floral dresses and a guitar on a vintage tandem. While a bit light on content (like this blog) it is nice to have a free magazine with articles on real cycling, cycling advocacy, product reviews, and ads for cool stuff I need to know about so I can want.

From this magazine, I learned that the recently added markings on Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach, are called "sharrows", and that "sharrows" have just been deemed official symbols for roadway marking in the US.

I also learned that there are very few municipalities using this symbol. When they appeared on my daily route a few months ago, I thought "oh nice, a picture of bike where I ride my bike, that makes me feel good about riding my bike". These symbols did not have any effect on how people where using their cars, but I was not expecting that they would.

A few weeks latter I noticed that along this road they had also put signs that say "BICYCLES MAY USE FULL LANE". While that is nice, it is not very realistic. The idea behind the "sharrow" is that cyclists and cars are to "share" the roadway. This is exactly what I do all of the time on every street that I ride. For a lone cyclist sharing the road is a matter of survival. Me using a full lane on Hermosa Ave is a nice idea but it really does not happen.

However,the change I have made is to obey the other traffic signals on this section of road with more diligence. For example, coming to an (almost) complete stop at stop signs. I figure if they are going to give me a lane and treat me as a serious means of transportation then I had better stop acting like the outlaw stepchild and be serious transportation. Now I am not saying I never role a stop sign in a quiet neighborhood with good visibility. I'm not saying I do not split lanes in heavy traffic. But at least on Hermosa Avenue, I try to behave better as I am being treated better. Well, at least there are pictures of bicycles on the road.

I have also notice these "sharrows" showing up in other places.

Am I to "share this metal vent thing with other vehicles? Really, passing with care is message we all can use. As Luke Skywalker says in "The Empire Strikes Back" : "I Care"

eh yeah kind of dorky...

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