STUFF

Share arrows for cyclists; clear as day or an accident waiting to happen?

‘Sharrows’, or share arrows, are encouraging cyclists to “claim their place in the traffic lane”, but not everyone is on board.

The large street markings of double arrows saddling the traditional bike lane image have been confusing motorists on two of Blenheim’s quieter roads, as cyclists hold their position close to the centre line. 

But others say the meaning behind the sharrows is “clear and obvious”.

Beaver Rd residents Gerald and Susan Sexton say the message behind the sharrows is "clear and obvious".

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Beaver Rd residents Gerald and Susan Sexton say the message behind the sharrows is “clear and obvious”.

The markings have been painted along Beaver Rd and Carr St, both of which are ”neighbourhood greenways” with 30kmh speed limits, and often lined with parked cars, making car doors a very real hazard. 

Blenheim resident Robin Mainprize said on Neighbourly encouraging cyclists to the centre of the road was “dumb logic”.

A Marlborough Girls' College student follows a sharrow on her way to school.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

A Marlborough Girls’ College student follows a sharrow on her way to school.

“Many drivers [and] cyclists will not know what they [the sharrows] actually mean,” Mainprize said. “Come to that, neither do I.”

But Beaver Rd resident Elinor MacLachlan said she thought the sharrows were clear-cut.

“I think they’re very clear and I couldn’t imagine anyone could mistake them for anything else,” MacLachlan said.

Parked cars can make Beaver Rd, in Blenheim, quite narrow, so cyclists are encouraged to cycle in the middle of the lane.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Parked cars can make Beaver Rd, in Blenheim, quite narrow, so cyclists are encouraged to cycle in the middle of the lane.

“They’re all the way along the length of the road, so people can bike up and down with ease. 

“I know the road is small and narrow in some places, but there’s still plenty of room for bikes.”

Susan Sexton, who also lived on Beaver Rd, agreed, saying the message behind the sharrows was “clear and obvious”.

“It’s to encourage them [cyclists] to ride their bikes in the right place and help motorists see the kids,” Sexton said.

“I don’t ride a bike anymore, but my husband does and he think’s they [the sharrows] are really good.

“They’re very clear and easy to see, so let’s hope the kids use them.”

Sharrows are only used where cyclist and cars should be going at similar speeds.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Sharrows are only used where cyclist and cars should be going at similar speeds.

Sexton said after cars had parked up on either side of the road, there was not much room left in the middle for road users.

“Beaver Rd is quite narrow … but it’s not as dangerous as it once was,” she said.

But Blenheim resident Alan Wadsworth disagreed, saying on Neighbourly the changes were at the expense of vehicle safety.

Bike Walk Marlborough co-ordinator Braden Prideaux says the sharrows encourage cyclists to take their place in the ...

STUFF

Bike Walk Marlborough co-ordinator Braden Prideaux says the sharrows encourage cyclists to take their place in the traffic lane.

“The New Zealand Road Code states ‘…always keep as close as possible to the left side of the road’,” Wadsworth said.

“I am stunned by what is being undertaken by the council in regards to cycle road safety.”

A 2014 trial, carried out in partnership with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), found more cyclists moved position to take the lane when sharrows were marked on the road.

Beaver Rd resident Elinor MacLachlan says she couldn't imagine anyone mistaking the sharrows for anything else.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Beaver Rd resident Elinor MacLachlan says she couldn’t imagine anyone mistaking the sharrows for anything else.

Trials were held in Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, Palmerston North and Nelson. Several sites recorded a reduction in vehicle speeds where sharrows were installed.

Bike Walk Marlborough co-ordinator Braden Prideaux said the sharrows encouraged cyclists to take their place in the traffic lane, especially along narrow sections and around parked vehicles.

“The road code recommends that cyclists keep left as practically possible, however there are instances when we encourage people on bikes to take the lane,” Prideaux said.

“For example, along Beaver Rd and Carr St, we encourage people on bikes to take the lane when required to increase visibility of themselves and to mitigate the risk of having a car door opened on them.

“Similarly, at roundabouts we encourage people on bikes to take the lane to increase visibility for all road users and to prevent people on bikes travelling on the inside of turning traffic.”

Beaver Rd resident Kaye Dickson said while she hoped the sharrows worked well for cyclists, she thought they would not work well for traffic.

“I can’t speak for Beaver Rd, as we turn straight onto Eltham Rd when we’re heading out, but on Eltham Rd the parking narrows it right down to basically a one-way street,” Dickson said.

“How is a car supposed to get past a cyclist in the middle of the road?”

Prideaux encouraged Marlburians to become familiar with how the different sections of Blenheim’s cycleways operated as the Eltham-Beaver Rd cycle route became more popular.

He said cyclists should view the New Zealand official code for more information on riding in traffic.

There were no plans to expand sharrows to other Marlborough roads at present, he said.


 – The Marlborough Express

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