They appeared overnight: large green symbols painted all over Takoma Park streets.
“Sharrows,” a ridiculously eye-rolling nickname created from the words “share” and “arrow,” were secretly painted by city crews in the early morning hours on Wednesday. Their unexpected appearance was an unwelcome surprise to those who demand lengthy, drawn out debates before any city action, but cyclists rejoiced.
“Finally the city has listened to us and proven that it takes biker safety seriously,” exclaimed Bert McDouglas, President of Capital Cyclist Foundation. “When they refused to provide separate lanes, more bike paths, or additional traffic enforcement cops to protect cyclists, we were disappointed. But when we saw their commitment in the form of passive aggressive “share the road” reminders painted on the streets, they totally redeemed themselves.”
It was an exciting start to Bike-to-Work Friday as cyclists enjoyed the benefits of the newly installed sharrows. “Bike-to-Work day is something I always told myself I would do but hadn’t followed through on until this year,” stated Gene Hardy. “Even though technically I work from home, I still managed to ride around the block to prove my commitment.”
As Bike-to-Work Friday progressed, however, the full impact of the sharrows became apparent. Initially seen as a safety warning on behalf of bikers, it became clear that they were, in fact, a cleverly disguised plot to rid the city of annoying cyclists.
After a morning filled with cyclists proudly riding through the city, as hundreds of residents pledged to ditch their cars, the number of bikers on the streets steadily declined as the day went on. Expecting morning riders to return home, flooding the streets with spandex shorts and aggressive gestures at cars in their way, people were surprised that not a single person on a bike could be found during the evening rush hour.
“It’s so weird,” explained Dana Moore, “My husband left for a short bike ride, but I haven’t seen him for several hours.” Moore later reported she had been able to locate her husband in Gaithersburg, a city about 20 miles north of Takoma Park, and that he was confused about how to return.
The Takoma Park Police Department reported an unusually high volume of calls from other cyclists who were similarly far from home and unable to figure out how to retrace their routes. The culprit: the sharrows, all pointing them out of town.
“We cyclists are known for following road rules,” stated Michael Dean, “so, naturally we just kept obeying the direction the sharrows were pointing.”
Cheryl Miller, the spokesperson for the City Manager, informed reporters that there was no mistake in the design of the sharrows.
“Let’s be honest, cyclists aren’t safe on our roads,” Miller stated. “So we decided the best way to protect bikers was to eliminate them by leading them out of the city. Their families will miss them, but we will all enjoy the opportunity to drive aggressively without having to worry about them. And the city will get to reduce our liability without them around, allowing us to lower the property tax rates. So it’s a net win for the community.”