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New Road Markings in Riverside a Controversy to Typical Duval Motorists.

February 15, 2012

ON CHANNEL FOUR NEWS

Here’s the link to the news clip to which this blog post is referring. Watch the video at this link too:

http://www.news4jax.com/morning-show/New-road-markings-to-help-or-hurt-bikers/-/1875838/8779492/-/g26b50/-/index.html

Not surprisingly, the average Duval motorist is having a difficult time understanding the purpose of the new sharrow markings that were installed on Riverside Avenue last week. And I’m not, in any way, trying to be condescending with my “not surprisingly” remark. I am not surprised because the entire state of Florida has yet to really advance beyond the car, thus when faced with such strange road markings as the sharrow, I would expect a certain amount of bewilderment from the public.

Proper street infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and school children, and alternate modes of transportation such as bicycles, scooters, buses, ELs, trains, and monorails are rare in most areas of the state, if not completely and hopelessly alien. I mean, let’s face it, such subjects as “road infrastructure markings for pedestrians and cyclists” and “sharing the road with all forms of transportation” are not taught to our newest Florida drivers during high school driver’s ed, so much of the blame for this mass ignorance can be pointed at state standards in education.

That said, never having been educated about the rules of the road in driver’s ed is no excuse for wielding your car as a weapon towards your fellow man who’s simply trying to cross the street, or get to the corner store on their bicycle.

Humor me for a moment and think about the overall picture:  You’re behind the wheel of your car. There’s a cyclist on the road. She’s trying to get to a destination just like you, only she chose to go there by way of bicycle. Maybe she’s on a bike because she only has a short distance to go, and in this day and age, conserving fuel is a wise way to go.  You’re both in a narrow lane (this is where the idea of sharrows comes in) and in order for her to ensure she doesn’t get side-swiped by you, she must take the full lane for a short period of time, usually averaging anywhere from one minute to two. If she were to place herself all the way over to the right most side of the lane, you would attempt to pass her, and with oncoming traffic on the other side, you wouldn’t be able to give her any cushion between her and your 3 ton vehicle barreling down the road at 35 mph. So instead of sideswiping the cyclist and breaking her bones, you remain behind the cyclist for about a minute or two out of your day.

I’d like to ask you some sincere questions: Does this frustrate you? If so, why exactly? Additionally, when a human being is trying to cross the street to get to the other side, do you find yourself becoming impatient with him? Do you find yourself heated over the fact that you had to stop your car for a few seconds? Do you find yourself not at a complete stop, but rather creeping closer and closer so as to imply that person needs to run, else the medics are going to have to pry him off the street after you’re done with him? What does that say about your personality? What does that say about the level of water in your well of patience?

Does a few seconds out of your day behind a bicycle, or stopped at a bus stop or crosswalk, warrant your anger? I’ll go ahead and answer that one for you… No. No it doesn’t.

Sharrows, bike lanes, bike paths, raised crosswalks, safety signage, amongst other forms of infrastructure, are common place in many other metropolitan areas of the country.

It’s time for Jacksonville to follow suit.

The JBC wasn’t interviewed for this clip, but our poster did make it into the news. That’s pretty cool.

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