2 effective uses of sharrows

shadows-2.jpgSharrows (those painted “share arrows” you see on the road sometimes) do not give bike riders any additional access or protection than that to which they are already legally entitled. Bike riders can already “take the lane” on almost any road where they deem that necessary (such as if it is too narrow for drivers to pass legally, there are “door zone” dangers from parked cars, if there is debris in the gutter, or if they are going to be making a left shortly). Therefore, sharrows should not be used as a replacement to actual “bike infrastructure” and should not be counted as part of your city’s total mileage of bike access. In fact, sharrows used as a replacement for actual safer access can be dangerous because they can mislead people into thinking they have more protection than they do.

Sharrows are effective in two important circumstances, however: (1) as wayfinding, such as in the first photo above taken on a quiet residential street in a neighborhood in Suwannee, Georgia that connects to a beautiful wooded and waterfront path, and (2) as a visual cue to bike riders and motorists that indicates a connection between existing bike infrastructure across an intersection, such as in the second photo above which was taken while crossing Peachtree Street in a two-way protected bike lane in Downtown Atlanta.

If any of your city leaders still engage in “sharrow-minded thinking” (especially on main or busy roads), please educate them as to what sharrows can and cannot do to help provide access for all.

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