What is a shared lane pavement marking, or "sharrow"?
Sharrow is short-form for "shared roadway bicycle marking". This pavement marking includes a bicycle symbol and two white chevrons.
What do these sharrow markings mean for cyclists?
Sharrows are used to assist bicyclists with positioning on a shared roadway with on-street parallel parking. Sharrow markings are also meant to remind bicyclists to share the road with motorists. Sharing the road means bicyclists should:
- Ride your bicycle predictably
- Follow the rules of the road
- Watch for motorists when making lane changes and turns
- Ride in the correct direction of travel at all times
What do these sharrow markings mean for motorists?
Sharrow markings are used to alert motorists of the location a bicyclist may occupy within the travelled way. Sharrow markings are also meant to remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists. Sharing the road means motorists should:
- Drive your vehicle predictably
- Follow the rules of the road
- Watch for cyclists when making lane changes and turns
- Pass to the left at a safe distance and speed without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle
- When parked, check for bicyclists before opening your door
- Be respectful of both bicyclists and pedestrians
Be aware that cyclists are vulnerable to different hazards than drivers (e.g. minor pot holes and debris), so give them space to maneuver. Even where there are no sharrows or bike lanes, motorists should always share the road.
Where can I expect to see these sharrow markings?
Sharrows are used on designated bicycle routes in the travel lanes adjacent to on-street parallel parking. Bicycle routes are roadways which are too narrow to install separated bicycle lanes. Sharrows are not always installed on bicycle routes.
Why are some sharrow markings in the middle of the travel lane? Aren't cyclists supposed to move to the right?
Sharrow markings are applied 11' from the adjacent curb to allow room for parallel parking by motorists. As street and lane widths vary, so too does the position of the shared roadway marking. Bicyclists are expected to use these markings as a guide to positioning themselves safely. Even when continuously parked cars are not present, bicyclists should remain positioned in the sharrow "path" to avoid weaving in and out of travel lanes.
How are sharrow markings different from bicycle lanes?
Bicycle lanes are a dedicated space for cyclists where motorized traffic is generally excluded. Bike lanes are painted on the road with bicycle symbols and a solid white line. Bicycle lanes require a minimum street and lane width and cannot be accommodated on every roadway.
In comparison, sharrows are used in lanes that are shared by motorists and cyclists. Travel lanes with sharrows do not have a separate white line indicating a dedicated cycling area. Instead, chevrons and a bicycle symbol are used to indicate where cyclists should ride, and where motorists should expect to see cyclists.
If I see these sharrow markings, is the lane for bikes only?
No. Sharrows are used to in lanes that are shared by motorists and cyclists.
Should cyclists and motorists only share the road in lanes with sharrow markings?
Cyclists and motorists should share the road on all these streets regardless of whether there are pavement marking or signs encouraging them to do so.
Are these markings going to be on every street that does not have a bike lane?
No. The sharrow markings will be used primarily on designated bicycle routes with on-street parallel parking.. In general, sharrows will not be used to indicate bike routes along neighborhood streets, which are comfortable for cyclists to use without the addition of pavement markings. Bicycle route signs will continue to be installed on all designated bicycle routes to help cyclists navigate these streets.
Why not just stripe bike lanes instead of sharrows on city streets?
Bicycle lanes are preferred to sharrows as a bikeway design treatment, but not all streets have enough width for bicycle lanes due to high demand for on-street parking and/or the inability to eliminate or narrow regular traffic lanes. As a general principle, widening roads to provide bike lanes is not practical indowntown or residential areas. However, on some roadways, minor widenings may be feasible in the future to accommodate bicycle lanes.
Since sharrows don't require removing parking or travel lanes for motor vehicles, why not just use sharrows instead of bike lanes on city streets?
Where bicycle lanes can be accommodated they are preferred to sharrows because they provide a higher level of service for cyclists. Most cyclists also prefer bicycle lanes over sharrows.
Will there be any signs used with these sharrow markings?
Bicycle warning signs and supplemental "Share the Road" signs may be used in addition to standard bicycle route signs.
Why is the City painting these sharrow markings on our roadways?
The City is working to improve cycling conditions, and sharrows are one way to encourage more people to consider cycling as a safe, effective method of travel.
Do sharrows work?
Yes. Study results in San Francisco and Florida have shown that sharrow pavement markings do work. Sharrow marking are effective at encouraging cyclists to ride farther from parked cars (outside of the "door zone") and the curb. On streets with sharrow markings, studies have found that cyclists are more likely to ride in the street (versus on the sidewalk) and with traffic (as opposed to the wrong way). Surveys have found that cyclists report they feel more comfortable riding on streets with sharrows than streets without sharrows.