Sunday, April 18, 2010
BikeWalkLee promoting "bicycles may use full lane" and "bicycles sharing road" signs
At the MPO Traffic Operations Coordinating Committee meeting on April 14th, the committee discussed the installation of "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" new MUTCD approved regulatory signs and the installation of Bicycle Sharing Roadway signs on roads in Lee County. Both BikeWalkLee and the Lee County BPAC requested that the LeeDOT staff consider the installation of these signs.
At the 4/14 MPO committee meeting, BikeWalkLee argued that to implement the County's Complete Streets Resolution, all county departments should be using their discretionary authority to meet the goals of the resolution. Part of accommodating the needs of all road users is to address the safety needs of cyclists and pedestrians. The Secretary of Transportation's new policy encourages transportation agencies to go beyond minimum requirements to foster increased use by bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
The most recent Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD 2009) includes several approved signs for sharing the roadway with cyclists, including a new one, "bicycles may use full lane", which is intended to be used in locations where it is important to inform road users that bicyclists might occupy the travel lane where no bicycle lanes or adjacent shoulders usable by bicyclists are present and where travel lanes are too narrow for bicyclists and motor vehicles to operate side by side (defined as less than 14 ft. wide). The yellow "bicycles sharing roadway" signs may be used on roads with wide curb lanes greater than 14 ft. wide. Erecting signs on roads like College Parkway and Cypress Lake Drive might actually move cyclists to the road and increase their efficiency and safety.
Both types of share the road signs are a means of alerting motorists to the presence of bicyclists and encouraging cooperative behavior. It is also an educational message--bikes have a right to the road as well. To date, LeeDOT has rarely been willing to use its discretionary authority to provide either of these signs, arguing that there are not enough cyclists on a particular road to merit signs and, besides, "the signs don't work".
At the MPO committee meeting, a representative from the Fiddlesticks Road three community master boards that had submitted a request in January for share the road signs, spoke about the need for these signs to give access to grocery, drug stores and bus stops for the 2500 homes that use Fiddlesticks Road. The fact that the communities have requested signs is an indication of latent demand that should be taken into account in determining where signs are warranted. In addition, there is no other route for cyclists trying to get to the shopping and path system up the road 1-2 miles. LeeDOT has refused to consider putting up signs arguing that "it's against the rules". We know now that it is not--Fiddlesticks Rd. meets the qualifications in MUTCD for a "bicycles may use full lane" sign.
The committee took no action, but BikeWalkLee is continuing to work with MPO and Lee County officials to request that objective criteria be established that promote the goals of the complete streets resolution, and that the criteria include such considerations as latent demand for cycling on that road, the number of houses along the road, the proximity to access to shopping and other transportation networks be considered, and whether or not there are alternative routes for cyclists to reach these destinations.
BikeWalkLee believes that putting up these 2 types of share the road signs are an important first step in demonstrating to the community that the needs of all roadway users are being taken into account and that cyclists have a right to be on these roads. These signs send an important message!
In related news from the East Coast, at the urging of the South Florida Bike Coalition, FDOT District 6 (Broward & Miami-Dade area)has just agreed to put in sharrows on the Sunset Drive project. Click here to read about it.
Tell us what you think--please share you comments below.