City of Beverly Hills was warned many months ago about this improper placement of sharrows on Crescent Drive:
As explicated in this graphic, these sharrows guide northbound Crescent riders into the left-hand lane, which allows motor traffic to pass on the right. After the South Santa Monica intersection, however, riders are then guided back to the right-hand lane which requires a merge back into faster-flowing traffic. This remains an eye-catching road engineering #FAIL six months after we notified the city about it.
[Update: After yet another round of emails, the city finally fixed this in late February (see the image at bottom) but without so much as a thanks to the citizens’ brigade for repeatedly reminding transportation officials of their responsibility to make our streets safely passable.]
Crescent Drive is a well-traveled N/S street that finds northbound motorists rushing to make the stoplights at North and South Santa Monica boulevards. So putting riders literally in the middle of this scrum is at best a mistake and, more likely, is a result of professional incompetence or ignorance.
While the misplacement of a sharrow marking may seem trivial to a driver, this state-approved traffic control device is important to riders as it offers official guidance as to where to ride. It is intended to make roads safer for those who ride a bicycle, not put them in harm’s way.
What is a Sharrow?
According to the state’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), sharrows can be used to:
Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane; alert road users of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way; and encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists…. (MUTCD Section 9C.07 Shared Lane Marking)
According to the manual, the marking “shall only be used on a roadway which has on-street parallel parking.” But Crescent northbound here has no parallel parking, of course. And even if it did, the MUTCD offers this bit of specific guidance: Where used to direct riders to a lane adjacent to a traffic lane, it should be only to the left of a right-turn-only lane. (Section 4D.104 Bicycle Signals).
As the manual suggests, it is better to use no sharrows at all than to implement unsafe sharrows.
We’ve Tried and Tried to Get This Fixed
I first contacted the Beverly Hills Deputy Director for Transportation Aaron Kunz in early June after noticing the unsafe sharrows placement:
Sharrows on Crescent (south of little SM) make an ill-advised jog around a non-turn lane as I recall (not the best practice).
Then I suggested that our city fix it. After seeing no action, though, I followed up in early August:
I’ve been puzzled by the hazardous placement of n/b Crescent sharrows. I wonder if the city has a plan to fix it?
Kunz acknowledged the problem and said a fix was in the works. But no fix came. So I followed up again in early October:
Can you remind me if the city will be fixing the sharrow alignment problem on Crescent at SM South? (We spoke about it in early August.)
Kunz replied, “I will check on the status of moving the sharrow as we discussed and get a date.” Hearing nothing back about it (of course) I then followed up a third time in late October:
I’m wondering if you’ve been able to nail down the date?
Aaron replied, “The moving of the sharrow will be a priority but unfortunately I do not have a date yet.” Optimistically I said I would look forward to having the problem corrected.
But evidently I was too optimistic! Here we are approaching February and there is no fix yet. Where in the transportation planner’s handbook does it say that a mistake like this can go unaddressed despite highlighting the problem and following up three times? It cries out for a lawsuit!
[As noted in the update, the city finally got around to fixing it. And all it took was a little paint]