Feb 142006
Authors: Emily Lance

Cyclists and motorists have always been encouraged to share the road and now a "Share the Road – Bike and Chevron" demonstration marking has been painted across Laurel Street from College Avenue to Shields Street as a permanent reminder. The new marking provides direction for cyclists in a shared-lane condition with motorists.

This marking connects existing and future bike lanes in Fort Collins and provides alternate routes for local and cross-country cyclists. Bicycle riding on College Avenue between Harmony Road and Laurel Street is prohibited. By using Laurel Street to travel west from College Avenue, bicyclists will be able to connect to bike lanes on Shields for a safer and more direct route.

"We looked into a variety of possibilities," said Kathleen Bracke , senior transportation planner for the City of Fort Collins. "The cost and impact of properties prohibited an alternative solution."

Possibilities were limited because the solution could not affect on-street parking, travel lanes or sidewalks on Laurel Street. Limited resources prevented widening the existing four lanes or narrowing the street to just two lanes.

Sean Kelley, a sophomore open option major, usually rides his bike on the sidewalk.

"Now that there's a path and motorists are more aware, I will probably ride on the street," Kelley said.

Colorado law permits cyclists to ride on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk unless prohibited by official traffic control devices or local ordinances. Colorado law also states that bicyclists must ride as far right in the lane as safe and practical when a vehicle is present. The pavement markings were painted on the right side of the right lane.

However, Rick Price , president of the Friends of Fort Collins Bicycle Program, said painting the markings on the right side might be a mistake.

"That is a door zone," Price said. "Students are in a hurry to get to class; cyclists are in a hurry. If someone opens their (car) door, it's a dangerous situation."

Kelley agrees.

"In some ways it's dangerous," he said. "Drivers could also get taken out by riders when they are getting in their car."

In the case of Laurel Street, where there is no shoulder or bike lane, cyclists are advised by law to ride closer to the center of the lane to be established as part of the flow of traffic and prevent motorists from passing when there isn't room.

The markings were originally intended to model a plan from San Francisco, Calif., and Denver, where pavement markings are placed in the middle of the lanes to ensure bicyclist safety.

"The San Francisco shared-lane concept is a better solution," Price said. "The bicycle emblem is in the middle and cyclists have a right to take the lane."

Bracke said the Laurel markings are a long-term solution because it is difficult to make changes to the road due to property on the each side.

"(The transportation board) is very interested in feedback," she said.

Board members will meet at 5:45 p.m. tonight in the community room at 215 N. Mason St.

For more information, comments or complaints, contact Kathleen Bracke at (970) 224-6140 or e-mail at kbracke@fcgov.com.

Emily Lance can be reached at campus@collegian.com.

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