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The city finishes the Yukon Street sharrows — finally

September 25, 2015

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This week, between Monday and Thursday, city workers completed the Yukon Street “super sharrow” pavement symbols opposite City Hall, by applying white bike stencils over the two-month-old green rectangles.

Indeed, Monday was two months to the day since an earlier crew had laid the line of solid green rectangles down the northbound lane of Yukon Street between 12th and West Broadway Avenue.

Better late than never, right?

The old sharrows crews tried to erase are already being exposed.

Remnants of sharrows that crews tried to erase two months ago are reappearing.

The other thing that workers did between July 21 and September 21 was in the last week of July when they tried to grind off and/or tar over the existing white sharow symbols stenciled directly on the pavement.

This had the effect of leaving no signs at all to tell drivers that the three block stretch of Yukon was to be shared with cyclists.

Imagine if the city replaced a stop sign this way — by first planting a new metal pole and then completely removing the existing pole and sign, so that the intersection had no stop sign whatsoever…for seven weeks.

Actually, I can’t imagine that the city would dare to put people’s lives at risk by changing a stop sign in the same way that it changed the sharrow symbols on Yukon Street.

Arguably, pavement bike sharing marks are not on a par, life-and-death-wise, with stop signs but both are road safety symbols deemed necessary at certain locations by city policy.

If the sharrows are an important safety feature then it wasn’t right for the city to completely remove them for so long. The old sharrows shouldn’t have been erased before the new sharrows were finished.

But, if it really was no biggie for the sharrows to be gone for two months, then why were they there in the first place and why did the city go to the time and expense of changing the existing large sharrow stencils?

The signs of entitlement

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Without clear evidence to the contrary, many Vancouver drivers continue to believe that they are solely entitled to use major city streets.

Over the years I’ve been angrily and repeatedly told to get my bike off of the Granville Street Bridge, the Cambie Street Bridge, West Broadway Avenue, and (as I will shortly explain) Oak Street.

These of course are all roadways that cyclists are legally entitled to use (and yes! I’m allowed in the West Broadway HOV lane during rush hour).

A small number of drivers will indignantly assert their non-existant exclusive rights to a given stretch of road unless there are explicit signs and symbols to show them otherwise. Usually this assertion takes the form of yelling, shouting and honking but occasionally a driver will pointedly refuse to yield space in the lane — literally trying to brush me as they pass.

Coincidentally (and serendipitously for this post), on Wednesday, even as as city workers were ploddingly plonking down the finishing bike stencils between 13th and West Broadway Avenue, I was being yelled at by a motorist in the southbound curb lane of Oak Street, of all places.

“Use a bike lane!” This is for cars only!” a driver behind me screamed, just as he turned right onto 12th Avenue.

I kid you not. He believed that I wasn’t legally entitled to ride my bike on Oak Street. And in fairness to his nibs, there were no signs saying that I was entitled to be there.

From my perspective as a cyclist, signage such as pavement bike stencils serves the important function of reminding a very small percentage of ignorant, pig-headed drivers that they are legally required to share the road with cyclists.

I really do believe that when the city takes away sharows, as they did on Yukon Street, they do so at my peril. Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Bicycles, Fairview

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