City adding sharrows to improve safety


Have you noticed those bike and arrow symbols painted on some Seymour streets or how about the new sidewalk that is almost complete along East Fourth Street from O’Brien Street to Burkart Boulevard?

Both features are part of an overall plan being implemented by the city to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to get where they need to go.

But there is some confusion as to what the bike and arrow symbols actually mean.

Called sharrows, the symbols are pavement markings to improve cycling safety on streets that are too narrow to have bike lanes, said Bob Tabeling, director of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department.

The placement of the symbols shows cyclists where they can ride to avoid traveling too close to cars parked on the street. There are specific measurements for these markings depending on whether the street allows for on-street parking, Tabeling said.

The markings also indicate to drivers they should be prepared to share the road with cyclists because the route has been identified by the city’s trails committee as a “preferred” bicycle route due to lower traffic counts.

“Sharrow symbols assist both the bike rider and the automobile driver,” Tabeling said.

The trails committee continues to work to identify areas in the community in need of safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages, he said.

Over the past few years, the city has added protected or buffered lanes, like the one along Burkart Boulevard from Fourth Street to O’Brien Street; bike lanes, like those on both sides of South Jackson Park Drive and East Oak Street; and walking trails, including the one through the new Crossroads Community Park in downtown Seymour.

Now, the city is in the final stages of completing two loops utilizing the sharrow symbols. One loop will be on the north side of the city and the other on the south side.

The northern loop is roughly 2.5 miles long and includes West Third Street, Kessler Boulevard, West Fifth Street and North Blish Street. The loop on the south side is 2 miles long and includes Kasting Road, Wendemere Drive, South Poplar Street and West Laurel Street.

Once finished, signage will be installed along the routes designating them part of Crossroads Community Trails, the network of trails the city is developing, Tabeling said. The signage also is being added to heighten awareness of pedestrians and cyclists in those areas, he said.

With the new sidewalk on East Fourth Street nearly complete, the next part of that project will be to add bike lanes on both sides of the road. The sidewalk and bike lanes will connect with the Eastside Industrial Park and the trail along Burkart Boulevard.

The projects are part of the city’s 2025 Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities plan. The four-phase plan officially began in 2017. Phase 2 is set to begin in 2020, followed by Phase 3 in 2023 and Phase 4 in 2025.

Tabeling said there is still plenty to come, including a major upgrade along East Tipton Street (U.S. 50), which is an area some people believe should have been addressed already.

“I think as a city, we really fail in this area as we have no sidewalk to Walmart,” resident Shawn Miskell said. “People that choose to shop here have to walk down a busy highway or wear a path in the grass of private property.”

The city is coordinating the addition of bike lanes and walking paths along East Tipton Street with an Indiana Department of Transportation project to repave that portion of Tipton Street in the next couple of years.

The improvements will be made from Burkart Boulevard past the Interstate 65 interchange out to U.S. 31.

“The completion of this project will allow us to then move south on U.S. 31 with a bike lane and have a direct connection into Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge,” Tabeling said.

Another project still in the planning stages is the addition of bike lanes and walking trails along the yet-to-be-built Burkart Boulevard south bypass. Construction on the first phase of that project is scheduled to begin in 2020.

Those bike lanes and walking trails will extend south of the city and connect to State Road 11, through Freeman Field to Airport Road and then to West Tipton Street.

“These projects will allow the community to move freely from north to south and east to west by utilizing downtown Seymour streets or along the scenic routes that will be located on the outskirts of the city,” Tabeling said.

City Councilman Matt Nicholson, who is on the city’s trails committee, said the work the committee is doing is making the city safer for pedestrians.

“The sharrows serve as a reminder to the motorist to be aware of the cyclist, and they encourage the cyclist to use lesser-traveled roads,” he said. “With the sidewalk complete and the sharrows, Seymour now has connected the boulevards with the Eastside Industrial Park.

“Plans are in the works for other additions to the trail network,” he added. “Some big, others small, but they all lead to a more connected community.”

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