Bicyclists and motorists will no longer have to share Northwest 16th Avenue.
Alachua County started work on Monday to change its bike lane project that began in July 2011.
On Monday night, work started to remove markings on the road that indicate that bicyclists and cars have a shared lane. Because of many complaints by the public, those markings were removed after the Board of Commissioners voted to implement dedicated bike lanes instead.
The project was originally approved in 2011 but it took until 2013 for it to actually come into effect. A comprehensive repaving, line replacement and widening for the road was completed in 2013, but the project was not finished until late last year because of drainage and utility issues as well as legal problems.
Brian Singleton, transportation engineering manager for Alachua County Public Works, said that the dedicated bike lane construction will cost about $100,000.
The project was already $500,000 over the original $7 million budget before this additional money was allotted.
Once the road project was finished, drivers and cyclists soon complained about a confusing network of “sharrows,” markings used to designate the road as one that can be used by both bicycles and motor vehicles. In response to these complaints, Alachua County officials voted to again restripe the roads and add 4-foot wide bike lanes on either side of the road.
“When the shared lanes went down there was confusion with motorist and the bicyclist of where the vehicles were allowed, and the board decided to remark the roadway with the dedicated bike lane in the street,” Singleton said.
Signs along the street say that bikers may use the full lane, although biker markings were put down on the right hand side of the lane.
Sharrow markings can be placed in either the center of the road or on the side of the lane. Singleton said that the county voted on placing the markings on the right hand side, as they believed that would be the safest place for bicyclist to ride.
Roger Pierce, chief of staff of Gainesville Cycling Club disagrees. He claims that the county should have voted to mark them in the center of the street in the first place.
“The markings were supposed to be in the center of the lane,” Pierce said. “Everybody I talked to doesn’t like them. I prefer bike lanes because sharrows are not well understood by the public.”
Lee Pinkoson, an Alachua County commissioner, said that Florida Statute laws changed between when they initiated the contract in 2011 and when it was finally completed.
“Sharrows under contract state statute said that the markings should be more centrally located in the lane,” Pinkoson said. “The board tried to accommodate both cars and bicyclists by changing it.”
By adding a specific bike lane, the vehicle lane will be reduced to a 10-foot-wide lane, which is the absolute minimum. This means that buses, trucks and other large vehicles may experience some trouble going down that road.
This is not the preferred width for larger vehicles, as the lane was three feet wider when the sharrows were still there.
“My only concern is for the larger trucks that might be on the road,” Pinkoson said. “We want everyone to be safe. Not only just a safe road, but a road that is much more hospitable to all.”