City of San Carlos - Sharrows FAQ
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Sharrows FAQ

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What is "Sharrow"?
Sharrow is an arrow-like design painted on a roadway to mark a bicycling route.
What is the purpose of this marking?
This “Shared Lane Marking” is intended to inform cyclists and motorists where a travel lane is shared by both modes. It has been shown to be helpful in situations where motorists may squeeze cyclists against the curb, where it may not be obvious where cyclists should be riding, such as intersections with multiple turn lanes, or where cyclists commonly ride too close to parked cars. The idea is to keep cyclists away from parked cars while promoting awareness of their right to use the road.
If I see this marking in a lane, is the lane only for bikes?
No. This marking is used for shared lanes; lanes that are used by bicyclists and motorists. Shared lanes are different than exclusive bike lanes which are set aside for bicyclists only and are marked by a solid white line and by a different symbol.
If I don’t see this marking, can I still use the travel lane?
Yes, cyclists can ride on any street except for those with signs explicitly prohibiting cyclists.
I’ve never seen this marking before.Where and how did it originate?
Cities such as Denver (where the marks were first used), San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Paris have some variation of sharrows on their streets.
However, having pioneered in Denver in the mid-1990s, sharrows attracted the attention of transportation officials around the United States. The markings were considered controversial at its inception.Nonetheless, Boulder, Colorado became one of the few cities outside of California to install the shared-lane markings in June 1990.
Portland followed and decided to experiment with sharrows. After the Alta study found the marking provided a statistically significant benefit to cyclists by encouraging them to move left and center. The study was commissioned in 2004 in an effort to improve cycling conditions on San Francisco’s crowded streets.
Since then, the California Traffic Control Device Committee, an advisory body, has recommended that the marking be adopted by the entire state.
Following that, San Francisco has stenciled approximately 2,500 sharrow markings on city streets.
The principle behind sharrows is simple:They reinforce existing rules of the road.In most states, cyclists are required to stay as far to the right as possible, except under unsafe conditions.One of these conditions is when the travel lane is too narrow for side-by-side passage of an automobile and a bicycle.
In addition, shared-lane markings have gained acceptance in some European and Australian cities. An Australian report published several years ago on “bicycle friendly zones” – the sharrow equivalent – suggested that shared-lane markings can be more effective than bike lanes in encouraging cyclists and motorists to pay attention to one another. The report also says the markings slow traffic and encourage all modes to share limited street space.
Are there sharrows installed in the City of San Carlos?
Yes.Currently, you can find these road markings on the entire length of Cedar Street and Arroyo Avenue.
What are the advantages of using the shared lane marking?
   1.The Shared lane markings have a positive influence on motorist and cyclist behavior, positions, and safety.
   2.Shared lane markings reduce wrong-way riding and sidewalk riding.
   3.The Bike-and-chevron marking has a strong impact on motorist positioning and in reducing wrong-way riding and is preferred by cyclists.
For more information and to view or download the Sharrows FAQ flyer. (307KB)