Location: Wichita

First Sharrows Installed In Wichita

The city of Wichita has recently installed its first sharrows, at the intersection of W 21st St. N and N 135th St. W (see map).

There have been wide shoulders on 21st for many years, which bicyclists used to travel along this arterial road (essentially using them as bike lanes). When the intersection was rebuilt, in late 2012, the shoulders were dropped within the intersection, leaving cyclists with no choices except to merge with potentially heavy and high-speed traffic, or to continue straight through a right-turn-only lane. Neither option was ideal.

Representatives from Bike Walk Wichita and WAMPO (the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) contacted the city about the issue, and a compromise was reached, in which sharrows — shared lane arrows — would be added to the right-turn lanes, along with appropriate signage, to indicate to bicyclists and motorists that bicycle traffic may use the right-turn lane to continue straight (or to turn). Bicyclists still have the option of moving into the main through shared lane, if they prefer.


Wichita Sharrow Photos

The following photos (and captions) of the new intersection were taken by Bike Walk Wichita, and republished here with permission:

We will need to educate motorists what this sign means: bicyclists may use any portion of the full width of the lane.

We will need to educate motorists what this sign means: bicyclists may use any portion of the full width of the lane.

It can be hard to safely mix right turn lanes with bike lanes. The city made a good decision to use sharrows and signs to make clear that cyclists going straight have the right of way.

It can be hard to safely mix right turn lanes with bike lanes. The city made a good decision to use sharrows and signs to make clear that cyclists going straight have the right of way.

Very clear signage, we hope motorists and cyclists understand.

Very clear signage, we hope motorists and cyclists understand.

Another view of the sharrow and the turn arrow.

Another view of the sharrow and the turn arrow.

This is the approach to the intersection. Nice job separating the bike lane, but not so good keeping bike lane free from debris.

This is the approach to the intersection. Nice job separating the bike lane, but not so good keeping bike lane free from debris.

Motor vehicles can turn right in this lane, they just need to share the road with cyclists. Should be easy, but this will take public education efforts.

Motor vehicles can turn right in this lane, they just need to share the road with cyclists. Should be easy, but this will take public education efforts.

Thank you, Bike Walk Wichita, for these photos!


First In Kansas

This is, as far as I’m aware, the first such implementation — a sharrow within a right-turn lane — in the state of Kansas.

It’s perhaps not an optimal configuration — an installation such as this one (on Lone Elm Road in Olathe is probably considered more “standard”, and less confusing — but it’s a reasonable compromise for lack of planning and coordination.

Given the “Yield to Bikes” sign, the through bicycle traffic will have priority over traffic merging from the shared-use travel lane to the right-turn lane. This should be relatively safe, as long as bicyclists and motorists are aware and considerate of each other. (But bicyclists, watch out for any oblivious motorists who may fail to yield the right-of-way! A rear-view mirror or head turn is strongly advised as you enter this area, to ensure that no motor vehicle is attempted to merge into your lane.)

I do not know if the entire length of the “wide shoulders” on 21st have now been officially designated as a “bike lane”, or if only the sections nearest the intersection now have the appropriate pavement markings and signage. (I assume the latter.)

It’s great to see the city of Wichita being willing to experiment with a new configuration, and responsive to the concerns of bicyclists!

Kansas.com covered the sharrows installation: New lane markings arrive to assist Wichita’s bicyclists (though, oddly, their photograph doesn’t appear to be from 21st and 135th; not sure what location it is depicting, and why they chose a photo showing a cyclist using a sidewalk instead of the sharrow’d street).

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web’s premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

5 responses to “First Sharrows Installed In Wichita”

  1. John Klein says:

    Will be good to look back in 4 years if the paint is maintained, and if the accident rate at this intersection is 0.

  2. Tom says:

    There is a great image circulating on Facebook that shows why bike lanes like this are such a wonderful idea in intersections. I have linked it via my photobucket account as well: http://i149.photobucket.com/albums/s52/bikeolounger/bike%20stuff/splat_zps6adb85c4.jpg

  3. This design is a real kludge that treats bicyclists as non-drivers, uses signage improperly, has conflicting markings, and tries to use signage to remedy poor geometric design. How sad that the first sharrows in Wichita are so poorly placed so that the conflict with the right turn arrows.

    The begin right turn lane yield to bikes sign is specified in the MUTCD to be used when a bike lane is situated to the left of a right turn lane, which is clearly not the case here.

    The “except bikes” signage exempting bicyclists from the markings is a “patch” to a fundamentally flawed geometric design that creates a discontinuous bike lane that routs bicyclists into a right turn only lane, instead of providing a continuous bike lane that allows bicyclists to travel in a straight line, like any other preferential use lane, and requires motorists to merge into the bike lane to make right turns.

    Such a design exists in California, and I would direct you to this publicly available facebook album to see the actual implementation, and I would encourage the transportation staff at Wichita to emulate in future work, and use to re-stripe this facility:

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4773860115785.171653.1574017310&type=1&l=974fc4c97e

  4. Randy Rasa says:

    Thanks, Dan. I think the word “patch” is spot-on. Appreciate your taking the time to look at this and comment. I’ll pass your comments along to the folks in Wichita.

  5. Paul Johnson says:

    Still cleaner lanes than Portland, Oregon. Street sweeper technology has not made it to that part of the world yet.

    I disagree with Dan’s assertion, though. The situation in play is similar to a bus lane, or curbside HOV lanes, both common on the west coast and often have similar right turn arrangements. Extreme example would be in Hillsboro, Oregon, where the left lanes in both directions on Washington Street are marked “◊ LEFT LANE | LIGHT RAIL AND LEFT TURN ONLY”