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New road markings to encourage bike awareness
Photo courtesy of the city of Allen -- Road markings such as these, commonly known as "sharrows," are being painted on 10 miles of roadway in Allen as part of an effort to raise awareness of the city's unmarked bike routes. The project will encompass two years and eventually include signs to further indicate the routes and remind motorists and bicyclists to share the road.
The city of Allen is issuing some friendly reminders to motorists and cyclists along the city's previously unmarked bike routes.
Share the lane markings, or "sharrows," are being 10 miles of roadway, including Malone Road, Rivercrest Boulevard, Twin Creeks Drive, Suncreek Drive and part of Comanche Drive, and there are more to come over the next two years.
The markings are not dedicated bike lanes but markers of the city's bike route, a series of roadways recommended to cyclists for their traffic and road conditions and connectivity to parks, trails and schools. In the state of Texas, bicyclists are allowed to ride alongside normal motor vehicle traffic on public roadways as long as they follow the same applicable traffic laws.
The new markings are intended to not only create public awareness of the routes but remind cyclists and drivers alike to ride or drive courteously as they share the road with one another, said John Baumgartner, director of engineering.
"We have a bike trail route map, but they're been unmarked for years," he said. "It does a lot for increasing awareness of where they are."
Philip Agnew, store manager for the Bicycles Plus store at The Village at Allen, commutes to work in Allen from Dallas using the DART rail and his bicycle. He said the long-term effects of the sharrows will be substantial for a high-growth community such as Allen as more people turn to bicycling as a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way to commute.
"Some motorists feel like the streets are for cars only, and it's just a reminder that there are cyclists on the road and to be aware of them," he said. "Don't get me wrong, I think there are lots of cyclists out there who gives us a bad name because they don't obey laws or cause problems, but it is a two-way street."
The markings were initially suggested by a group of local bicycling enthusiasts who asked the Community Development Corporation for funding in spring of last year. The CDC approved a total of $150,000 for the three-year project.
The city plans to finish the lane markings on Comanche Drive and add markings to Ridgemont Drive, part of Tatum Drive, Walnut Springs and Shallowater Drives, and Roaring Springs Drive next year as well as add another 10 miles of bike routes throughout the city.
The three-year marking plan also calls for signage along the routes, a feature expected to be introduced in early April.
Ross Obermeyer, city councilman and CDC board member, said the board approved the funding in hopes of encouraging further use of the bike routes, adding that he hopes such an upswing in bike commuting will add a positive environmental benefit to the city.
"What we're trying to do is, for people who choose to do that, we want to make it as safe as we can," he said. "Riding a bike on a city street, we want to make that as safe as possible."
The city's bike plan was first developed in 2001 and upgraded in 2010, Baumgartner said. It is partially designed to help "fill the gaps" in the city's pedestrian/bicycle trail system and connect residential neighborhoods to the trails.
"We look at those activity centers and neighborhood centers and try to identify the appropriate routes," he said.
The CDC has also helped fund with its half-cent of sales tax revenue a parking garage at The Village at Allen, a staging area at Watters Creek and improvements to several parks and historical facilities.