Location: AL

Sharrows Arrive in Iola

Iola, Kansas has just installed its first sharrows, on just over a mile of streets in and near downtown.

The sharrows have been installed on Washington Avenue from Lincoln Avenue south to Vine Street, and on Vine west to connect with the Southwind Rail Trail. Though not installed yet, sharrows are also slated for West Street from downtown to the Prairie Spirit Trail.

Washington Avenue was originally US-169 Highway, and runs though the historic downtown, along the west side of the courthouse square, and past stately homes from Iola’s golden era of the early 1900s.

The sharrows project was approved by the Iola city council last fall, with funding provided by a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation (via Thrive Allen County), with engineering and installation provided by the city of Iola.

In addition to providing visual cues to people riding bikes and driving cars, the sharrows are intended to help visitors arriving via the Prairie Spirit Trail and the Southwind Rail Trail to discover the historical and cultural amenities of Iola, as well as as lead them to food, entertainment, and shopping services downtown. Additional wayfinding signage is planned for later this year.

The following are a few photos:

Iola Sharrows

A sharrow in front of the historic Iola Theatre, built in the 1930s, and currently in the early stages of being restored to its original glory.

Iola Sharrows

Washington Avenue features both parallel and angled (head-in) parking.

Iola Sharrows

Iola Sharrows

Iola Sharrows

Parking is allowed on Vine Street, so the sharrows are placed well towards the center of the roadway.

Iola Sharrows

A sharrow (short for “shared lane arrow”) serves two main purposes: First, they advise bicyclists where to position themselves within a lane for optimal safety — basically, bicyclists should ride right over the “point” of the arrow. Secondly, they remind motorists to expect bicycle traffic, and where drivers should expect bicyclists to position themselves. Secondary purposes of the sharrows are to remind bicyclists to ride in the same direction as other traffic, and can also be used as a wayfinding aid.

Although sharrows are relatively new in Kansas, they’ve been used around the country for many years, and can help improve the safety of the roads for both motorists and bicyclists.

Sharrows have previously been installed in Manhattan, Lawrence, Wichita, Topeka, and Emporia, and are planned for Hays. Iola is the smallest community in Kansas to install sharrows to date.

Learn more: Sharrows in Kansas.

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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]

4 responses to “Sharrows Arrive in Iola”

  1. Randy Rasa says:

    Additional information about these sharrows, via Thrive Allen County: http://thriveallencounty.org/news/sharrows-improve-bicycle-safety-in-iola/

    “Sharrows are one more piece of the puzzle in making Iola safer and more welcoming to cyclists,” said David Toland, Thrive Allen County executive director.

    “In less than five years we’ve seen Iola and Allen County become one of the best destinations for cyclists in the state, largely due to a progressive city government and strong support from the Kansas Health Foundation, Sunflower Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.”

    “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of enhancements to our physical infrastructure that will make Iola the most cyclist and pedestrian-friendly small town in Kansas.”

  2. G Dennett says:

    It seems like the position of the sharrows conflicts with Kansas State law as to where a bicycle should be positioned in the lane. If the rider is to ride over the point of the sharrow it looks like it would put the rider in the center of the lane. It might be just the photos but it looks like the sharrows are should be moved to the right, look to be in lane center.

    Like the concept hope it does help with awareness by motorist.

  3. Randy Rasa says:

    It is a little hard to tell, because some of the streets have no center line. I’d have to get out a tape measure to check for sure, but my impression was that they’re pretty well-placed.

    My understanding is that an effective lane of 14 feet or less is classified as a “narrow width lane”, and the “as far right as practicable” rule does not apply.

    I’ll have to get out and check sometime…

  4. G Dennett says:

    Might be the photos but it look like the sharrow should around the area of the right wheel track created by the cars using the road. Even if the road is noted as narrow width the drivers will still think that 3 ft applies.

    As i said before I like the concept, but consistency in application will be required for the average driver to start accepting the concept.

    Guess I will just have to come down and do a little trail riding in and around Iola and see them for myself.