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Monday, January 22, 2007

"Sharrow": Appearing Soon on a Street Near You?

Image of a sharrow road marking, improving safety for bicyclists
At its just completed winter meeting held January 17-19 in Arlington, Virginia, the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices voted 35-0-3 to endorse the shared lane marking ("sharrow") and forward it to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for potential inclusion in the next edition of the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). (Read more.)

I'm a big fan of "sharrows," which were introduced in San Francisco in 2004. The city's study demonstrated that "sharrows" improved roadway positioning of both bicyclists and motorists, getting cyclists well outside the dangerous "door zone," while drivers gave more clearance when passing. The "sharrow" also reduced wrong-way riding by bicyclists.

After San Francisco's experience, the "sharrow" was adopted as an official marking by Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation. Many cities, including New York City, Portland and Los Angeles, have begun painting "sharrows" on their streets. The pavement marking is now advancing through national road authorities for approved use on streets across the U.S.

True, a Class II (on-street striped bike lane) facility is preferred. But where government agencies are reluctant to remove parking to create a bike lane, a "sharrow" is a great improvement. It legitimizes bicycling on streets, providing a strong visual cue to both motorists and bicyclists, transcending language barriers to clearly illustrate proper lane placement.

Image: Paul Dorn. Sharrow on Steiner Street in San Francisco.
Visit: "Sharrows" aim to help cars and bikes share roads, Christian Science Monitor, 08.31.05
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Yokota Fritz said...

Woo hoo! Right on!

I'm a big fan of sharrows, too. I prefer wide lanes also, but in built-up urban areas widening streets usually means taking away parking or sidewalk space.

Paul Tay said...

No complaints from Santa. But, then again, anybody stupid enough to be close enough to get DOORED probably DESERVED it.

Take the lane, people. Hell, you paid for it.

Anonymous said...

People have different tolerances for having cars approach them at 40 miles an hour. I congratulate you for being one but I suspect you would be a bit alarmed if you saw a child riding in the middle of a lane.

Paul Tay said...

Neither I nor Santa has EVER seen a child riding in the middle of the lane.

I did see and talked to a very astute lady riding in the far LEFT lane. Even without Effective Cycling training, she figured out the lane positioning for HIGH visibilty.

Yep. Everybody saw her. And, they simply went around her.

hoodwalker said...

We just got our first sharrows in Tallahassee, FL. Challenging the rural culture here is a bit daunting. I think folks in big cities may have an easier time of it.

You can see some of the issues we deal with here in the South at

gwadzilla said...

DC could use some Share Lanes

Anonymous said...

Now that Fort Worth's official bike route program is underway, sharrows have started appearing on several urban streets around here as well. It's great to see.

Ari said...

Take a check of the nastily-placed pothole right at the point of sharrow chevrons on N. Harvard Street in Allston. It flipped me last week—watch out if you commute on that oft-used section of roadway.

(I've called the city to suggest they fill it in)