Tell me the truth, have you ever used the word sharrows in a sentence before today?
From the City Of Gloucester Website-
GLOUCESTER, MA. — Stacy Boulevard, home to the Man at the Wheel statue and several other memorials, has a new set of wheels. But instead of facing out towards Gloucester Bay as the helms wheel the man in his sou’wester so firmly grips, these wheels look up to drivers and bicyclists from the pavement as they grip their steering wheels and handlebars.
Painted in bright, white paint by the city’s Public Works department these wheels form part of 27 stencils of bicycles joined by two arrows, indicating that cyclists often use that route.
The so-called ‘sharrows’ alert drivers that they are on a popular biking route and guide riders safely away from opening car doors. Motorists who see sharrows should watch for bicyclists, pass bicycles only when they have sufficient space to do so and look for bicyclists when opening their doors. Bicyclists should travel over the center of the sharrow marking in the direction of vehicle traffic in order to stay away from opening car doors, storm drains and raised curbs.
The new sharrows were painted this week by the Department of Public Works as part of the Get Fit Gloucester! initiative. Stacy Boulevard was specifically targeted for the first set of sharrows based on review of bicycle crash data and input from local bicyclists.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk said the sharrows show the city’s commitment to alternative transportation. “We’ve got the water shuttle and the trolley designed to ease congestion and make Gloucester a more pleasurable destination for visitors and residents alike,” Kirk said. “Bicycling is one more way to move around the city, leaving your car behind.”
Community Development Director Sarah Garcia whose office runs the Get Fit Gloucester! program noted the sharrows are all part of the effort to create a “Fit Friendly Gloucester!” “The sharrows help create a safer and more welcoming atmosphere that will encourage more residents to enjoy the wonderful and scenic bicycle routes in Gloucester,” she said. Acting Health Director Max Schenck pointed out that encouraging bicycling is one way the City can promote healthier lifestyles that reduce obesity and the chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, which result from inactivity.
Get Fit Gloucester! Project Manager Stephen Winslow worked with the DPW to purchase the bicycle sharrow stencil with $300 in funds provided by the Commonwealth’s Mass-in-Motion program. Sharrows have been studied in other communities and have been shown to encourage motorists to give bicyclists more room when passing and to encourage bicyclists to move away from car doors that may swing open. “The biggest fear many people have when bicycling are cars passing from behind,” Winslow said. “That is actually one of the least likely causes of bicycle accidents. Many more bicyclists are injured when drivers unexpectedly swing open their doors. Sharrows help address this safety issue.”
The first phase of sharrows will run eastbound on Stacy Boulevard toward Washington Street, then follow Rogers Street and Main Street to Bass Avenue. Westbound the sharrows will run on Main Street from Bass Avenue to Washington Street and then on Stacy Boulevard to Stage Fort Park. A second phase of sharrows is planned on a route that will follow Cherry Street and Maplewood Avenue that allows bicyclists to avoid Grant Circle.