LADOT Sharrows Report Results: Sharrows are Good

The long-awaited report is finally here.  A year after installation, the LADOT Bike Program has completed analysis of our in-depth study for Sharrows on the streets of Los Angeles.  Overall, Sharrows were a resounding success in improving safe interactions between drivers and bicyclists on many different types of street with various conditions.  For a look at the methodolgy used for our study, feel free to read up on our pre-installation Sharrows post.

But don’t take our word for it: take a look at the report for yourself.  We also created a page tab (a drop-down from the “Sharrows” page tab) for a quick link to the study by itself.  The report has already been submitted to SCAG and to the Mayor’s Office.  We hope to move forward with a robust implementation of Sharrows on Bicycle Friendly Streets throughout the City and as a practical solution to gap closure between existing facilities on streets that cannot easily accommodate bike lanes.

Come below the fold, where we’ll do a quick rundown of the report’s results, and what it may mean for LA’s streets in the future.

Sharrows Improve Driver Behavior

Sharrows improved the interactions between drivers and bicyclists in a number of ways: drivers passed bicyclists at greater distances, drivers allowed a greater tailing distance when following behind a bicyclist, tailgated a bicyclist far less often, took fewer aggressive actions, and were less abusive towards bicyclists.

Passing Distance

Fountain Ave had the most improvement, 4th Street had the highest passing distance

In almost every site, drivers increased the distance they would take when passing a bicyclist.  The greatest improvement was on Fountain Avenue, where drivers increased their passing distance by 28% to almost 5 feet of room between driver and bicyclist. 4th Street had the highest passing distance, with drivers leaving 6.06 feet of room, on average, between themselves and bicyclists when passing.  The only street that saw its passing distance shrink was on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which had the highest (and thus, safest) passing distance before Sharrows were implemented.

Not only did passing distance improve, but the number of unsafe passers also shrank

In addition to the passing distance increasing overall, far fewer drivers passed bicyclists in an unsafe manner.  Fountain Avenue again had the greatest change (seen in the graph above) which saw the number of drivers passing unsafely (less than 3 feet of room) drop from almost 50% of drivers to less than 25% of drivers.  Reseda Boulevard and Adams Boulevard also saw far fewer unsafe passes from drivers.

Changed Behavior

More road conditions improved than passing distance

In addition to improved passing distances, drivers were found to tailgate less, follow behind bicyclists at a safe distance more often, and engage in fewer instances of aggression like honking and/or shouting at a bicyclist.  The best example of this is on Reseda Boulevard, which saw improvements in all three factors.  Additionally, Westholme Avenue saw a sharp decrease in aggressive behavior and 4th Street saw a steep decrease in tailgating and a large increase drivers following at a safe distance.

Recommendations

The report concludes that Sharrows would be most effective in Los Angeles on streets like Fountain Avenue – 2 lane streets with a dotted line dividing direction of traffic.  Sharrows, although not as effective as on Fountain Avenue, were also found to create positive impacts for bicyclists on arterial roadways and low-volume collector streets.

Recommended for Sharrows in Los Angeles

LADOT’s additional recommendations hit a few high points:

  • Sharrows be implemented no less than 12 feet from the curb.  Beyond this minimum distance, however, Sharrows should also be aligned in a way that creates a straight line of travel for bicyclists.  This helps ensure a bicyclist doesn’t weave as street widths change, making them safer and ensuring drivers will be able to react to bicyclists more predictably.
  • Sharrows be implemented along with “Bicycles may use full lane” signage, pending its approval in the California Manual for Traffic Control Devices (CA MUTCD).

Sharrows will be prioritized for:

  • Gap closure between bike lanes where a bike lane is infeasible;
  • Existing bicycle routes, to enhance visibility and safety, and;
  • On 2-lane streets with dotted divider lines, similar to Fountain Avenue

“Thank You”s

We’d also like to issue a special “Thank You” to everyone involved in making this study a success.  In particular, we’d like to thank the LACBC for being great partners in this study, Dennis Hindman for showing up to every single pre-and-post installation Sharrows study ride, and to LADOT Bike Program interns/Student Professional Workers Oliver Hou, Hannah Polow, and Cullen McCormick for crunching the data and putting together such a good looking report.

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