Sharrows are Coming!



Word comes from the Bike-to-Brown mailing list that sharrows have started to appear along the on-road portion of the Blackstone Bike Way connector.  This shot was taken by John Pezza on High Street in Central Falls.  To my knowledge, this is the first use of sharrows in Rhode Island and marks a big step forward in conveying the message to motorists that bicycles have a place on the road.

I believe these markings are going to become very prolific around Providence, as cycling gathers momentum and we work with RIDOT and the cities to provide markings that educate both motorists and cyclists alike about where on the streets is safest for cyclists to ride.

As advocates, we need to make sure and do our part.  When you see sharrows, make sure they are in a sensible location.  The spot shown in this photograph is fine, if there is no parking allowed along that side of the street.  If parking is permitted, then DOT should be putting the sharrows farther into the road, outside the door zone.  These markings are just starting to be used in the State and it’s likely very few of the people putting down the markings are cyclists and truly understand the dangers we cyclists face.

Let us know if you come across an area where sharrows have been put down and placement isn’t appropriate, we will do our best to work with DOT and ensure better placement going forward.


  • Anj
    May 27, 2011 at 8:38 am

    There's old and faded sharrows on routes 2 and 3. I wish they'd repaint them.

  • May 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

    @Anj, really? Where along routes 2 & 3? When were they put in?

  • Victor
    May 27, 2011 at 10:39 am

    This is really nice. However, I doubt they will maintain them.

    I also doubt they will put more of them in on main streets that are NOT connected with a bike path.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    May 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Bob Billington from the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council was the driving force behind this – the sharrows go from the Blackstone Valley Bike Path to link to the East Bay Bike path via Cumberland, CF, Pawtucket and Providence. I pretty sure the price was around $10,000 to stripe this – not cheap.

  • Victor
    May 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    10,000 is cheap actually.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    May 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Victor – then you should have paid for it – then it would have saved everyone 2 years of meetings to get all four cities to agree on this – and trying to secure the funds to do this – just leave your contact info so we'll call you next time.

  • May 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    @Ted I'm always amazed at the cost of road projects. I'm sure it's not paint you or I can just pick up at your local hardware store, but it does make me wonder how much the cost of each sharrow comes out to! I had heard that Bob was behind the project, the bike community should come together and thank him.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    May 28, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Mark, You can reach Bob Billington at the BVTC at 724-2200

    Yes I agree with you – Bob put in countless hours into this project without any self-promotion or fanfare. I sat in on several meetings myself and can tell you there were a lot of people involved from Cumberland, CF, Pawtucket and Providence and the DOT as well – engineers, city officials (highway departments, legal) enough to fill a room with 12-20 people – and a lot of meetings had to be coordinated so that everyone was there – not that easy with that many people involved.

    Also, no one just wrote a check for this – Bob had to work on securing the funds to make this happen after two years of negotiations – not as simple as some people might conclude.

  • Victor
    May 28, 2011 at 6:39 am

    'Victor – then you should have paid for it – then it would have saved everyone 2 years of meetings to get all four cities to agree on this – and trying to secure the funds to do this – just leave your contact info so we’ll call you next time.'

    I suggest you look at how much money is spent every single day building high way ramps, and expanding lanes.

    10,000 is pocket change.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    May 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Yes – if the federal government is writing the check – and Cardi or D'Ambra Construction is employed to siphon the funds – you are correct – but not if one single individual gets behind this – AND not only coordinates this with 4 cities/towns – BUT actually pays for it without affecting anyone – or without any self-promotion or interest.

    Compare apples with apples – not with huge government projects that ultimately affect every taxpayer.

  • Labann
    May 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Victor is not only right, arguing against shows just how marginalized and puny bicycling community considers itself. Feds spend nearly $1 trillion/year to accommodate motoring, with state's contributing matching 5-50%. RIDOT spent nearly $1 billion on ONLY 4 MILES OF HIGHWAYS (I-Way & Q-Way), mainly to open 38 acres to developers and insiders. $10K is a bone tossed to the stray dog. Bike paths ONLY COST $900/mile, and even that is inflated considering they were already engineered a century ago to carry heavy TRAINS, not lightweight bike-ped.

    I did personally volunteer to stripe Broadway bike lanes after 6 years of empty promises. All I asked was to be reimbursed for paint. The reply was that the unions would complain. Right! Majority doesn't want to designate any pavement to bicycling. 150 million motorists outvote 56 million bicyclists despite federal statute that call for them and govern road funding, 23 CFR 450.208, call for "Strategies for incorporating bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways in appropriate projects throughout the State" and CFRs 625.5 – 652.7 restrict motoring on them. Technically, city/state/town planners, RIDOT, and zoning boards break the law every time they eliminate/omit bike lanes and sidewalks, which they repeatedly do (Lambert Lind, Post Road, Reservoir Avenue, and why bother repeating a long litany?).

  • Whodat
    May 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm


    Bike paths do not cost $900 per mile, I' m not sure where you get your information from, but go back and check that figure.. If they did I would personally write the check for 4 miles in pawtucket.
    Just painting sharrows on the road every 250 lf in each direction without any consideration for the addional signage would cost over $4000 per mile. Throw in signage and that price will easily double. The sharrows look great, this is a great start for the state and a good example for other communities to look at for those interested in doing an on road bike project. Also, the picture shows a sharrow close to the curb, this is done this way in areas where there is no parking and in areas where parking is allowed sharrows are typically placed 11 ft from the curb.
    Great work bike stripe people.

  • Labann
    May 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    typo: $900,000/mile, or that's what it used to be. May have gone up over the last decade. About half is engineering, or so I'm given to understand. Surprised you actually read the post, as nobody takes what I write seriously here.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    May 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I wonder why? How can you quote $900/mile in one post – THEN say $900,000/mile when someone corrects you – and then say "may have gone up over the last decade". Maybe you can you tell me what has gone down in price in road projects in the last decade.

    Rather than acknowledge the effort of one guy who actually got this done without any fanfare – and you yourself COULD NOT EVEN GET PERMISSION TO PAINT THE STRIPES AFTER 6 YEARS OF TRYING – EVEN AFTER VOLUNTEERING TO PAY FOR THE PAINT – you marginalize one guy that actually did something about it – not only in one city – but in four cities/towns.

  • Victor
    Jun 1, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Ted, sometimes it depends who you are. I have asked the most basic questions and have pursued the most simplest projects only to get a flat out no by RIDOT.

  • Labann
    Jun 1, 2011 at 5:07 am


    The answer is simple. It is actually $900K; missed the "K" as a typo. And posts to this seldom read forum aren't even worth the time to type, never mind proofread. Still, bike paths are CHEAP compared to the average of $10 million/mile of highways. Repaving existing regular streets? Don't know what that costs, though sure it's variable, probably more considering they are at least 4 times as wide. All I do know is a lot of contractors based outside RI bid and get projects, so money leaves state. Then again, repairing bikeways is likewise far cheaper then roadways, if hardly ever needed.

    This mayor/congressman you mentioned did absolutely zero for bike infrastructure. NW Trail was planned before his administration by state. Allen's and Promenade lanes preexisted him, and disappeared in part during his administration. State had to force him to install signs, and paid for it. He was the most anti-bike mayor city ever had; then crowed and took credit once improvements were undeniable. Please look at the facts, not the spin.

  • Pingback: Holy S#!7 Sharrows! | Car-Free in PVD

  • margherita
    Jun 13, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Regarding the sharrrows — I have had several people complain to me about them because they don't know what they mean. They are now on Gano street (for a couple blocks) but some drivers thought they meant the entire street had been turned into a bike lane. There should be some signage so that everyone understands what the figures mean for both drivers and bikers.

  • Jun 14, 2011 at 4:34 am

    @margherita, we talked about this at last night's meeting. Betty is going to explore some PSA opportunities around sharrows. It seems like a perfect time to get the word out about what these markings mean, beyond what we can do on this blog.

  • Jun 24, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Thanks to the BVTC– Bob Billington & Andrew Pierson's tireless efforts…

    The paint was one cost, the engineering was another ~ $35 K (putting things on public streets requires proper procedures and standards exercised by experts). It is amazing how much liability issues and process it takes to get these things done. However, it should get better the more familiar people are with it– RIDOT, cyclists, drivers– this is a gradual step towards making bicycling a more natural and safe part of all forms of transportation.

    One of the best things to come out of this was the cooperation between the cities. Pawtucket and Central Falls may have some of the highest need for bike systems for transportation (dense urban areas) but have had no investment in them from the state and federal level (unlike Barrington, Bristol, etc.). The most these communities show their efforts, the better chance to gain more investment in systems like the Blackstone Valley Bikeway.

    Another unexpected consequence: recently one study at Harvard showed that the introduction of bike lanes and sharrows help to reduce the gender inequity in bike riding– countries that have bike systems have a very balanced use by both men and women, while ones that don't have more like 10% female ridership.

  • Brian
    Jun 29, 2011 at 9:24 am

    How about painting these sharrows in areas of the city that are *not* super rich, in places where residents often use bikes as their *primary* mode of transport?

    My point is that the rest of the city needs these, not just the wealthy east side.

  • Jul 6, 2011 at 5:39 am

    @Brian these particular sharrows were put in place to connect the Blackstone Bike Path and the East Bay Bike Path. The location has nothing to do with the wealth of the surrounding neighborhoods. The fact that the city put these down is a huge step forward, as it required that city DOT accept them as an official marking prior to their being released in the next edition of the MUTCD. Now that they are on pavement in this area, advocates can start leaning on the local and state organizations to use them in more places. They are a perfect marking to be used along all bike routes in the city, where there isn't room for a dedicated bicycle lane.

  • Labann
    Jul 6, 2011 at 7:05 am

    "perfect marking to be used along all bike routes in the city, where there isn’t room for a dedicated bicycle lane…"

    Then why did state spend $700 million for I-way? Yeah, they'll MAKE ROOM for motorists. Takes hardly anything to accommodate bicyclists, but they won't only because there are fewer in a 1:3 ratio. Smaller numbers means nothing in warfare; what matters is tight tactical. Just look how a few necons are shutting down government to get us to spend less on entitlements and more on their own pet projects, like munitions manufacturer and oil. They haven't cut oil subsidies in decades. Taxpayers still pay for exploration when all reserves are already known. And they'll get suckers to pay for fracking shale next, so only a few top earners can greedily take in more.

    If sharrows are a substitute for real bicycling infrastructure required already by federal law (CFRs 23, Titles 42 and 49), then count me out. They do nothing. Recently on Gano Street (between George Washington and Wayland Square, a typical route), an SUV at high speed forced me off road altogether right at a sharrow. Instead, let's close some motorways to vehicular traffic, like they did at the Hub. The only reason there's no room is motorists take all of it with their big stinking parking lots, false sense of privilege, and real estate gobbling highways.