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Construction to Begin on Bike Lane Along Northwest 16th Avenue


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.

Signs reading "May Use Full Lane" with a bike image can be seen lined along NW 16th Ave. In two weeks, the road will have a dedicated bike lane instead of a shared lane for bikers and vehicles that existed previously. Photo by Kristina McDonald // WUFT News
Signs reading “May Use Full Lane” with a bike image can be seen lined along NW 16th Ave. In two weeks, the road will have a dedicated bike lane instead of a shared lane for bikers and vehicles that existed previously. (Kristina McDonald /WUFT News)

“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.”

About Kristina McDonald

Kristina is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  1. Bicyclists are already allowed to use the full traffic lane on nearly every road in our State. What is dangerous about the right-most sharrows that were installed is that motorists who don’t understand Florida law (or bicyclists’ rights) wrongly assume that cyclists must ride to the far right (where the sharrow marking is painted). Riding far to the right on a road with a 40 mph speed limit, and land width too narrow for a bike and car to safely share side-by-side is just dangerous, inviting car-bike collisions that could easily result in deaths. This road is NOT appropriate for sharrow installation, due to its speed limit. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Since no one wants to dare slow the speed limit on this hilly road that crosses multiple driveways and side streets, the bike lane is the obvious safer design. To be clear: the road is not being “widened” to “make bike lanes.” The paved road surface is simply being re-striped to narrow the two traffic lanes and add a bike lane. That is all.

  2. All the data presented by Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation showed that the new configuration, even with the “narrower” traffic lanes (which aren’t in fact being narrowed), is safer for vehicular and emergency traffic. That is why our elected officials approved the new configuration. It was based on science and decades of traffic studies here in the US and elsewhere. It is a gross misrepresentation of the process and public debate to say that the “narrower” roads will be more difficult to navigate. Just the opposite is true. At each stage of the transformation of this roadway political concerns and anecdotal evidence have given way to safety, science, and the public good. Our County Commission is to be commended for making the changes.

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