City to add more bike racks and 'sharrow' signs

The Transportation Commission has noticed an increased number of bicyclists in Ashland, and is trying to make the streets safer for them by installing easy-access bike racks and shared-lane signs, city officials said this week.

The demand for bike parking spots downtown is high, and city planners want to have more than enough racks to encourage residents to bike instead of driving, helping to reduce traffic and pollution, said Mike Faught, the city's public works director.

"Our theory is the more bike parking we provide downtown and the easier we make it for people, the more likely people are to ride their bikes as opposed to parking downtown," he said. "We had one test of that theory when we put in the bike rack structure in front of Standing Stone (Brewing Co.) during this time last year, and that bike stand seems to be full most of the time now."

City planners want to install improved versions of the easy-access bike rack in front of Standing Stone elsewhere in the city, Faught said. The new bike racks will be placed primarily in the street, instead of on the sidewalk, and will feature bumpers and reflective tape on both sides to protect the bikes from cars, he said.

The commission also wants the city to paint "shared-lane arrows," or "sharrows," on more city streets, to remind motorists to share the streets with bicyclists. The commission is considering putting sharrows on Helman and A streets, because this winter's pilot sharrow project, on Oak Street, has been successful, Faught said.

However, commissioners don't want to create sharrows on so many streets that they become commonplace, potentially causing drivers to ignore them, said Commission Chairman Eric Heesacker, an Ashland bicyclist.

"Our concern is if we start throwing sharrows on any street in town, people are going to ignore them and they won't serve any purpose," he said.

The commission is also considering classifying some extremely narrow streets in Ashland as shared streets, because there is no room on the streets for bike lanes or sidewalks, Faught said. Shared streets would likely have a speed limit of about 15 mph, instead of the typical 25 mph, he said. The commission is working to define the shared street and sharrow concepts.

Commissioners will take up the issue at their next meeting on Aug. 19.

Heesacker said he thinks bicycle use will continue to increase in the city in coming years.

"We're already seeing more bicyclists, and gas prices are going to go up and more people are going to turn to this," he said. "It's important to understand it's not just cars out there anymore. 'Times they are a-changin'.'"

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or

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