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A new street-striping program on two thoroughfares near a cluster of schools on the city’s northside has been approved by the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety.
The initiative is expected to help slow traffic and raise awareness of bicyclists near Schmitt Elementary, Northside Middle and Columbus North High schools. It will affect parts of Home Avenue and 27th Street, but there was no immediate timeline on when the work would be done.
Streets will be marked with bicycle “sharrow” symbols; and, in some areas, white lines on either side of the street will establish curbside parking and reduce the width of traffic lanes. The change will affect Home Avenue between 19th and 25th streets and 27th Street between Washington and Maple streets.
Two weeks ago, the board sought public input on the proposal, and the city mailed out more than 80 letters to property owners on the affected streets, said Rae-Leigh Stark, a senior planner in the city planning department. The city received two responses, one positive and one negative, Stark said.
Stark said the city did not directly contact 19 renters who live on the affected streets but would send out notices to them about the changes.
She said the Safe Routes to School plan suggested bicycle lanes be painted in the school areas, but the city came up with the sharrow/parking-lane compromise to preserve on-street parking that residents use in the area.
Laurence Brown, director of the Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Office, said he has not seen any cities using the parking-lane/sharrow plan.
He said the sharrow markers, which feature a bicyclist and arrows painted on the street, would help drivers be more aware of bicyclists in the area. However, he said he was concerned that the sharrow markings also could indicate to bicyclists that they must be in the travel lane with motor vehicles instead of having the option of traveling in the parking lane, if it were available.
“The goal is to create complete streets here, meaning that we want to give space to cyclists and make sure that the drivers know that cyclists will be there,” Brown said. “ I think this does that.”
Brown said studies show that accidents with bicyclists are most likely to occur when they are traveling on sidewalks, rather than on streets, because drivers do not expect to see them coming out into traffic. The goal of this program is to get bicyclists to ride on the street with motor vehicle traffic.
Deputy Police Chief Todd Haney said that motorists who cross over into the parking lane while driving would not be ticketed.
The board approved the proposal 4-0. Mayor Kristen Brown was absent.
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