By Paul Stoddard, Principal Planner
City staff recently completed an infrastructure project to rebuild the roadbed of South West Street. The project ran from the City line with Fairfax County to the intersection with West Broad Street. As part of the project City staff installed Shared-lane markings or “sharrows” along the street.
South West Street is identified as a designated bicycle route in the City’s Bicycle Master Plan. That Plan identifies bike routes in the City. The Plan also directs staff to implement those routes when opportunities present themselves, for example during a roadbed reconstruction project. Sharrows were selected as the appropriate treatment following a community workshop. Staff presented several concepts for the street and meeting participants provided feedback on each of the ideas.
Sharrows are intended to help motorists and cyclists safely share and navigate streets. Sharrows are different from bike lanes. Whereas bike lanes are reserved for exclusive use of bicyclists, sharrows are a reminder that people biking and people driving are expected to share the same lane.
Sharrows are placed near the middle of travel lanes to guide bicyclists to operate near the middle of the lane. This position makes it easier to see people biking and limits the chance of a biker riding into the suddenly opened door of a parallel parked car. Under state law, people who wish to pass a bicyclist may do so by moving into the opposing traffic lane (provided it is safe to do so). Also under state law, motorists must leave a three foot (3’) buffer when passing bicyclists.
The South West Street Roadbed Reconstruction Project is managed by Stephanie Rogers, Transportation Engineering Supervisor. For more information about the South West Street Project please visit www.FallsChurchva.gov/SWest.