Downtown Lincoln Avenue Changes
In 2015, changes were made to Lincoln Avenue downtown to help increase bicycle and pedestrian safety. Here's what you can expect to see.
SharrowsSharrows ("share" + "arrows") are street markings that remind drivers and bicyclists to “share the road.” Sharrows reduce wrong-way riding, bring bicyclists outside the door zone of parked cars and increase the visibility of bicyclists by treating them as part of the normal flow of traffic. Sharrows will be painted directly on the street every 150-200 feet.
By state statute, bikes are prohibited from riding on the sidewalk in the downtown business district. Bikes ridden on sidewalks cause conflicts with pedestrians and can surprise drivers at intersections. These signs along Lincoln Avenue will remind bicyclists of their responsibility, making our downtown sidewalks safer for everyone.
Answers to to common questions
How should I drive and bike on a street marked with sharrows?
Sharrows emphasize that the lane is shared between vehicles and bikes. Sharrows don’t change the law. Whether or not sharrows are present, bicyclists always have the right to use the full travel lane when the street is too narrow for them to safely ride to the right of traffic or if it is dangerous for them to ride to the right for some other reason. The sharrows just remind drivers that they are sharing the lane with bicyclists.
As a driver you treat the lane just as you would any other lane with a slower moving vehicle. Give the slower moving vehicle adequate space, move out and pass them only if safe, then once passed, move back into the travel lane.
As a cyclist, use the sharrows to place yourself in the travel lane and maintain a constant position. Avoid weaving in and out of the parking lane.
I’m a cyclist and am afraid of riding in the street and getting hit from behind!
It is estimated that 10% of all car-bike collisions involve a car overtaking a bike. Much more common are collisions that involve turning motions at intersections. By riding in the street, you are more visible to other users of the road and are thus less likely to be involved in such an accident.
Isn’t the sidewalk a safer place for bikes to be?
In certain cases, such as a child learning to ride their bike in front of their house, yes. But for trips that involve longer distances and intersection crossings, and lacking dedicated bike-only pathways, on-street riding is much safer.
The most common type of bike/car collisions comes at intersections where turning motions bring the path of the cyclist and driver into conflict. Cyclists that ride in the street are much more visible to drivers and also have a better sense of the traffic patterns around them and are able to respond accordingly.
In addition, sidewalk cyclists and downtown pedestrians, who can exit buildings at any time, are not a good mix. Street trees, garbage cans, light posts, and other sidewalk obstructions also make for conditions that are not suitable to the sidewalk cyclist.
I'm a parent and I don't think the street is a safe place for my kids to be riding bike!
The issue of kids, cars, and bikes is a sensitive one, something we've thought a lot about, and is far from being solved by this one action. Keep in mind that this rule about sidewalk riding has always been in place and only applies to the downtown business district, which for all intents and purposes right now, is just Lincoln Avenue. If a child or his or her parents don't feel comfortable with them riding in the street, then a perfectly acceptable alternative is to walk their bikes on the sidewalk. It's important to keep in mind that there are other users and obstacles on the sidewalk that make it not the best place to bike anyway.
We hope that the forthcoming addition of sharrows to Lincoln Avenue will also change -- for the better -- the way that some view bicycling downtown. As drivers and cyclists get more comfortable with the idea of sharing the road, and as more people venture out on two wheels and discover the positive benefits of it, we can't help but think that a positive feedback loop will form between all users of the streets, both downtown and throughout Fergus Falls.
I am a downtown business owner. How will this change affect me?
In short, bikes are good for business! Improved accomodations for bicyclists and pedestrians are among the most cost-effective ways to increase the visibility and frequency of visits to your business (see bit.ly/bike-benefits for more information).