Morrisville gets bike-friendly ‘sharrows’

snagem@newsobserver.comJune 13, 2014 

Morrisville painted “sharrows,” short for shared-lane arrows, on a one-mile stretch of Paramount Parkway.

TOWN OF MORRISVILLE

— It might be a little easier, and safer, for people to ride their bikes to work at Perimeter Park.

Morrisville recently completed painting “sharrows” on a one-mile stretch of Paramount Parkway near the large office park.

Sharrows, short for shared-lane arrows, serve much like bike lanes. They use two painted arrows to remind drivers and bicyclists to share the road. The symbol also tells bicyclists where they should ride.

Morrisville’s transportation plan calls for re-striping some roads, said Benjamin Howell, the town’s transportation planner. Paramount Parkway was set to be resurfaced this year, so Howell suggested adding bike lanes to the area.

But Paramount isn’t wide enough for actual bike lanes, which take up about 5 feet of space, Howell said. So the town opted for sharrows, which are about 2 feet wide.

Mayor Mark Stohlman said encouraging more people to ride bikes in Morrisville is part of a bigger effort to ease transportation woes. The town’s roads see plenty of rush-hour traffic from commuters going to Research Triangle Park.

“I think it’s part of the whole solution that we see,” Stohlman said. “We’re looking to alternatives, to get people off the roads, out of cars.”

The town has also invested in building new sidewalks and greenways, Stohlman said.

Many of the busiest roads in Morrisville are maintained by the state and await state funding for upgrades. It could cost up to $100 million to widen N.C. 54 near Perimeter Park, Stohlman said.

“That’s why it isn’t done yet,” he said.

In the meantime, Stohlman said, small changes like bike lanes and sharrows can help.

Morrisville doesn’t have immediate plans to paint more sharrows, Howell said. But as more roads get repaved, they will be considered.

Perimeter Park has more than 2 million square feet of office space and is home to PC maker Lenovo and other companies.

“Paramount Parkway was a good place to start,” Howell said of adding sharrows. “There are several office buildings in that area.”

Nagem: 919-460-2605; Twitter: @BySarahNagem

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