George Hess: About those sharrows

06/27/2014 12:00 AM

06/25/2014 1:27 PM

About those sharrows

I was at first encouraged by the headline trumpeting Morrisville’s use of shared-lane markings (sharrows). Alarm bells began ringing as I read that sharrows “serve much like bike lanes,” were used because the road “isn’t wide enough for bike lanes” and were only “about two feet wide.”

Sure enough, a photograph in The Cary News shows a sharrow on the far right of a standard-size lane. That’s not right.

Shared-lane markings are not narrow bike lanes and should not be used as such.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle Facility Planning and Engineering Guidelines (2006) define shared-lane markings centered in the travel lane as “intended to remind road users that cyclists are permitted and expected to operate in the same travel lane space as other drivers ” when lanes are too narrow for safe same-lane passing.

Bicycles are vehicles that may use the full lane. The sharing encouraged by shared-lane markings is one traveling behind the other, not motorists unlawfully squeezing past cyclists in the same lane.

Motorists should pass cyclists in the same manner as they pass other motor vehicles: Wait for traffic to clear and move fully into the adjacent lane.

George Hess


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