Marysville officials have installed signage called “sharrows” on several city streets. The bicycle with arrows markings are on what city officials are calling the preferred bike route through Marysville. The sharrows are on Maple, Sixth and Chestnut streets. (Journal-Tribune photo by Kevin Behrens)
Those driving through Marysville might be noticing a few more markings on the city streets.
The painted bicycle with two arrows is called a sharrow.
According to the Union County Health Department, sharrows are “symbols placed on the road to guide bicyclists to the best place to ride on the road and to remind drivers to share the road with cyclists.”
Officials said cyclists in the area already use several roads in the county to connect to Plain City. Marysville City Service Director Mike Andrako said the sharrows are being put on what he calls the “preferred route through the city” for cyclists.
Andrako said sharrows are useful in areas where motorists and bicyclists need to share the road. He said they are “like a share the road sign for the pavement.”
“When you don’t have enough width and can’t fit a bike lane in, a sharrow is the best option,” Andrako said.
City Manager Terry Emery said the sharrows are “already being done around the state” especially in suburban areas.
Health Department officials have said the sharrows serve as a notification to drivers that they are more likely to encounter bicyclists on the road. According to information from the health department, the sharrows, “encourage slow and safe passing of bicyclists by motorists, and help reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.”
They also help position bicyclists inside the lane. Andrako said it is best to have bicyclists “in the middle of the lane,” rather than close to the parked cars where doors can quickly open or vehicles can pull into traffic.
The city has installed sharrows beginning at Schwarzkopf Park, south on Maple Street to Sixth Street, east to Chestnut Street which becomes Weaver Road.
Andrako said he has received some comments about how many sharrows there are along the route. He explained that the manual traffic engineers follow dictates sharrows be no more than 250 feet apart. He said that Marysville city blocks are 300 feet long, meaning each block needs two sharrows going each direction.
Andrako said that while there are a lot of the markings, they are on only three streets in the city. He said some cities use them on every street, limiting their effectiveness.
“I think they are effective the way we are using them,” Andrako said. “If we just put them on the streets that have bicycles on them, I think they will be effective.”
Andrako said health department officials had hoped to have an education campaign before the sharrows were installed, “but it didn’t work out that way.”
He said the sharrows were set to be installed in a couple weeks.
“With striping contractors, especially this time of year, their schedules get very busy,” Andrako said, noting that after about mid-November, it gets too cold to stripe roadways.
He said the contractor got an opening and “wanted to get it done when they had the time to be able to do it.”
“It’s not usually a problem,” Andrako joked. “Usually when someone gets a project done early, it’s a good thing.”
The sharrows are part of a larger project to connect Marysville’s Jim Simmons Trail to the Heritage Trail in Hilliard.
In 2013 and 2014, the Union County Chamber of Commerce developed and published a Master Trail Plan. Part of the plan was the creation of a trail connecting Marysville with the Heritage Trail in Plain City. Once on the Heritage Trail, cyclists have access to many other trails traveling across the state.
In 2017 the county received a grant from the Ohio departments of health and transportation. Initially the grant was only to fund a $15,000 bike rental program. Eventually the funding was increased to $70,000 and shifted to fund a bike trail from Schwarzkopf Park to the Heritage Trail.
City and Health Department officials have explained the money is being used to create signage and road markings along the already existing roads. Money will not be used to purchase any land, create new trails or widen any roads.
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