ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, August 6, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Reader wants ACHD to stop painting "sharrows" on roads and use advisory signs instead; the signal on Whitewater Park Boulevard at Fairview Avenue has a long left-turn wait that benefits other drivers; white "crosses" create question

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: There was yet another irate motorist yelling at me this morning for riding a bicycle in a shared lane, or "sharrow." I have asked employees of ACHD many times to stop using them and instead use "Bikes May Use Full Lane" signs. The sharrows unnecessarily lead to conflicts between people on bikes and motorists because motorists don't know what they are and wrongly believe we shouldn't be there.


Road Wizard:

Put share and arrows together and you have sharrows. The markings display a white bike with chevrons and are a guide to the recommended riding locations on roads that do not have bike lanes.

They are painted far enough from parked vehicles to help prevent bicyclists from being "doored" by exiting occupants. They also alert motorists that bicyclists can ride in the lane even if a motor vehicle driver doesn't have room to pass.

"Bikes May Use Full Lane" signs can't do all of that. Sometimes the signs and sharrows are used together, such as on 13th and Walnut streets in Boise. The preference is to place the signs along with the sharrows, or use sharrows without the signs, rather than let the signs stand alone.

Some motorists struggle with finding the patience to wait to pass a relatively slow-moving bicyclist, regardless of what types of signs or markings are posted. But for the most part, the sharrows help explain the possibility of bikes in the street.

Dear Road Wizard: Is it possible to check the signal timing of Whitewater Park Boulevard and Fairview Avenue? When traveling southbound on Whitewater Park, when the light changes at Main Street, it is impossible to also make the left turn at Fairview. The signal cycle length at Fairview is very favorable to the Fairview traffic and the same cars that went through the Main signal wait for a very long time before the light changes to green for the left-turning traffic onto Fairview.


Road Wizard:

The signal is working as intended, but the frustration among Whitewater Park drivers is noted. What we have here is another case of programming traffic lights to keep the largest groups of vehicles moving. And those vehicles are not flowing down Whitewater Park.

The signal timing plans are set up to benefit Main and Fairview, which are one-way roads typically loaded with drivers heading to and from Downtown Boise. The timing of the Main and Fairview signals must cooperate with the signals downtown to prevent backups by favoring the direction of the majority of motorists.

Tinkering to make the Whitewater Park signals at Main and Fairview work better together would mess up arrival times at other signals for drivers already on the main routes, creating new delays and impacting more people.

Dear Road Wizard: What does a white cross painted on a road mean?

Road Wizard:

These have been reported around Mountain Home, but the mayor and police department aren't aware of any reason for them. But it is fairly common to see a white cross or "X" on a road. They are drawn to mark locations for aerial surveys that use photography.

Rural intersections where roads run along one-mile square land sections are good places to look for them. The intersections are often points of known locations and elevations. The only other "X" marking I can think of would be by a railroad crossing. Or to mark buried treasure…

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