They don’t create bike lanes, they just remind everyone to share the road

    After asking three weeks ago for more details on what it would cost to have City of Crookston Public Works crews paint more “sharrows” on various streets in the community to remind everyone that motorists and bicyclists are supposed to share the road, the Crookston City Council Monday evening voted unanimously in favor of a two-year plan to add sharrows on approximately three miles of streets in the community.

    The vote, at the council’s Ways & Means Committee meeting, came after City Administrator Shannon Stassen and Public Works Director Pat Kelly determined that it would cost around $340 each year of the project, 2018 and 2019, to buy around 20 gallons of paint in each of the two years. Kelly figures it will take members of his staff around 30 hours to paint the sharrows each year.

    The request for the additional sharrows was made by members of Bike Crookston three years ago. Their proposal comes on the heels of an initial experiment with painted sharrows on Central Avenue North. Bike Crookston’s Tim Denney said at the council’s most recent meeting in April that no official research was done on the impact of the sharrows or the public’s reaction to them, but he said that most people seemed to understand why they were there, and had no complaints about them. Still, Denney said, with North Central Avenue being a fairly busy street, some parents still advised their kids to ride their bikes on the sidewalk. Denney added that Bike Crookston had no problem with parents advising their kids to do so.

    Stassen said Kelly recommended the project be spread out over two years so that as crews need to touch up the painted sharrows over time, they don’t have to touch them all up in a single year, but can stagger it over two years. He said they won’t set aside specific times to start painting the sharrows, but will take on the project when the opportunities to do so present themselves.

    Stassen said Bike Crookston representatives have maps featuring the proposed streets that will have sharrows. They are streets that will link current bike trails, Stassen explained, as well as streets that lead to important destinations in the community.

    Stassen also reiterated what Denney and other bicycling proponents have been saying each time talk of sharrows comes up: “Sharrows don’t change anything,” he said, “they are just an indicator of what the current laws already are.” In other words, sharrows don’t create bicycle lanes.