Sharrows 2: Revenge of the Sharrow, Jefferson Avenue Bike Boulevard

A few weeks ago we shared with you the utter stupidity that was going on in Saint Paul.

The short summary is this; sharrows were painted on the Jefferson Ave. Bike Blvd, then a few days later sharrows were painted over because they would be ‘too expensive to maintain’.

Yesterday we got a tip from Jeff Zaayer, that perhaps you can’t keep a good sharrow down, so we decided to ride over from CTC headquarters in Minneapolis to investigate. Sure enough a winter of snow plows and car traffic has quickly worn away the black paint that was previously covering the sharrows, and they are shining through.

What’s the next step for Saint Paul?

Come spring time are they going to send out crews to paint over them again?  In this scenario the city would have paid a crew to go out to the street, three times in about 8 months, twice more than they would have if they had just left the sharrows in the first place.  If they are going to send a crew back out to the site, why not send them out with stencils and white paint?  They are already paying for the most expensive thing, crew time.

Despite how ridiculous this is turning out to be, the real problem seems to be the perception that maintaining cycling infrastructure is either expensive or a waste of taxpayer dollars, both of which are a complete fallacy.

Here are two items of interest that we pulled from a recent article on the website Grist;

1) Portland, bicycle mecca and former #1 cycling city in the US, allocates less than 1 percent of its transportation budget to bikes each year.  1 percent! This is for a city with over 100 miles of on-street bike lanes.  By comparison Saint Paul has 30 miles of bike lanes and 10.8 miles of bike routes.

2) The other item is this;

The average driver travels 10,000 miles in town each year and contributes $324 in taxes and direct fees. The cost to the public, including direct costs and externalities, is a whopping $3,360.

On the opposite pole, someone who exclusively bikes may go 3,000 miles in a year, contribute $300 annually in taxes, and costs the public only $36, making for a profit of $264. To balance the road budget, we need 12 people commuting by bicycle for each person who commutes by car.

If you cycle year round, you are getting ripped off, and subsidizing the damage that cars do to the roads.

We will keep you posted.

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2 Responses to Sharrows 2: Revenge of the Sharrow, Jefferson Avenue Bike Boulevard

  1. Reuben says:

    My understanding is that the sharrows were painted over primarily because the city had made a commitment to the community not to paint them – not because of cost concerns.

    • The information that I have based this on came from the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition’s website. They stated;

      “The councilman for Ward 3, in which this stretch of Jefferson is located, and the sole dissenting vote on the Jefferson Bikeway project, said it was done in error and that the sharrows were painted over because the city couldn’t afford to maintain them.”

      Either way it is a messy situation.

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