'Sharrows' and new bike lanes are coming to Chapel Road

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Jun. 27, 2013
A sharrow marking will remind motorists to be mindful of bicyclists at the 'pinch point' in the future bike lane at the intersection of Chapel Road and Ellington Road. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
A sharrow marking will remind motorists to be mindful of bicyclists at the 'pinch point' in the future bike lane at the intersection of Chapel Road and Ellington Road. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

South Windsor is known to be a bicycle-friendly town. The League of American Bicyclists said as much when it gave the community a Bronze Level Designation earlier this year for its demonstrable bike-friendliness. Additionally, construction scheduled later this summer will help facilitate the safe coexistence between bicyclists and motorists in town.

The pavement project will add new bike lanes and "sharrows" to Chapel Road. A sharrow, or shared lane, features a bicycle symbol with two chevrons above it. The road marking acts as a reminder to motorists to be cautious and considerate of bikers.

"Under Connecticut law, all roads except expressways can be used by bicyclists whether or not they have these shared lane markings," explains a release from the South Windsor Walk and Wheel Ways. "However, sharrows are used to mark streets that are better bicycle connectors, reminding drivers that they are likely to see cyclists on a particular road and where the cyclists will be riding.  Sharrows encourage safe riding and safe driving and have been shown to reduce conflicts between motor vehicles and bicycles."

Chapel Road connects bicyclists from the Charter Oak Greenway, just outside of the South Windsor town line near Wickham Park, to Old Main Street and the Bissell Bridge. While a popular bike route, the road does not have an official bike lane. "On Chapel Road, there has been a shoulder there, but not wide enough to be considered a bike lane," said Ginny Hole, co-chair of the South Windsor Walk and Wheel Ways, a subcommittee of the Park and Recreation Department that is advancing the project. A bike lane should be 4 feet wide – the shoulder on Chapel Road comes up short of this.

Sharrow markings will be added at two locations on Chapel. "From Clark Street to Ellington Road, when you approach the intersection, we lose the bike lane," said Hole. The road splits into a straight ahead and a right hand turn lane for motorists, taking away room for the bike lane. It is at this pinch point where sharrows will be critical. "Sharrows will indicate to motorists that the biker will lose his biking lane, and that bicyclists will be merging into their lane." Bicyclists and motorists will be riding in single file for a short stretch. The same will occur at John Fitch Blvd., Route 5.

Basilia Huang is a member of the South Windsor Walk and Wheel Ways as well as an Engineer employed at Capital Region Council of Governments. She has been instrumental in leading the Sharrows Campaign. As the South Windsor Walk and Wheel Ways seeks to upgrade from the Bronze Designation by improving the town's biking infrastructure, Huang said that sharrows might be used elsewhere in town. "This is a trial for the sharrows," said Huang. "We want to work hard on this education campaign to let people know what they are, and that they're different from a bike lane."

The addition of the bike lane will be the second instance of bike lanes being used in town, the first being at Sand Hill Road. While bike lanes are preferable, said Huang, sharrows are important safety reminders in lieu of lanes. When the sharrows are placed, South Windsor will join Simsbury and West Hartford in featuring this marking.

Construction is expected to begin early in July and continue through the month. Sharrow and lane markings will be painted in late July or early August.

For more information, visit www.swwww.org.

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