This Thursday, Cleveland Heights received its first bicycle sharrows. These “shared lane markings,” most commonly known as sharrows, help cyclists and motorists cooperatively use the road. Although found in many cities across the US, and used internationally in Australia and the United Kingdom, sharrows are a new sight to Cleveland’s east side.
Read our “frequently asked questions” below to get a sense of what sharrows are and how they’re used. Tell us what you think: leave a comment below, or visit our sharrow placement survey to give your feedback.
Are there advantages to sharrows?
There are many benefits to sharrows. For bicyclists, they help remind motorists to kindly share the road. For retailers, improved bicycle infrastructure improves foot traffic to their business. For homeowners, bicycle friendly communities attract future residents, thus boosting property values. For you, it can help you incorporate a healthy mode of transportation into your lifestyle, should you choose.
Are sharrows common in other US cities?
The first sharrows appeared in Denver, CO in the 1990’s. Since then, sharrows have sprouted up in many cities across the US. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a ride in Flagstaff, AZ, Louisville, KY, Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR, or even Columbus or Dayton, OH, there’s a chance you’ll see sharrows on the road.
What’s the difference between sharrows and bike lanes?
Think of sharrows as “share the road” signs painted on the asphalt. On roads with sharrows, all vehicles can use pavement equally. Bicycle lanes, on the other hand, strictly divide the road for use either by cyclists, or motorists, but not for both.
Can I drive or park on top of sharrows?
Sharrows are intended to emphasize that vehicles should share the road. Although parking on shared lane markings may be inconvenient to some cyclists, motorists have the right to park wherever they’re permitted to do so by the city.
I saw a bicyclist riding in the middle of the lane. Is this permitted?
Generally speaking, yes, bicycles may use the full lane. When there are hazards such as potholes, debris, or parked cards, bicyclists may use the full width of the lane to ensure their own safety. However, Ohio law mandates that bicyclists “shall ride as near to the right of the roadway as practicable, unless it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so.” Just as motorists must be patient with cyclists when taking the lane, bikers must reciprocate by sharing the width of the road with motorists.
Are the sharrows intended to direct my way of travel?
Think of sharrows as “share the road” signs to facilitate cooperation between cars and bikes. Although the chevrons do indicate directionality, they should not be treated as bicycle lanes. Bicyclists should always remain cautious of parked cars, debris, and other road hazards, regardless of the apparent direction of travel recommended by the sharrows.
There are no sharrows on Euclid Heights Boulevard (EHB) between Cedar Rd. and Coventry Rd. Why is that?
Although the City and the Cleveland Heights Bicycle Coalition (CHBC) intended to install sharrows along the entire length of EHB, we concluded it was unsafe to do so where on-street parking is permitted. As an alternative, the Coalition has asked the city to install the traditional yellow “Share the Road” signs at important points of travel.
How far should sharrows be installed from the curb?
There is no universally accepted system of installing sharrows on roadways. Although the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) advises communities to install sharrows four feet from the curb on roads without street parking, these are simply guidelines, and not regulations. Each municipality must determine what is best for the community, depending on logistical or civic concerns. Because of safety concerns, the CHBC advocates that sharrows should be installed four feet from the curb on roads without street parking, and eleven feet with street parking, as recommended by the DOT.
How do you feel about the new sharrows? Leave a comment below, or give your feedback about their placement on our sharrow placement survey.