Many roads throughout Columbia, Missouri will soon feature “sharrow” symbols to help motorists and cyclists travel more safely together, according to an article from the Missourian. The shared-lane markings are intened to ease confusion as to where and how bicyclists should ride, and where motorists should expect to see them.
In an effort to give both cyclists and motorists peace of mind in sharing the road, GetAbout Columbia is preparing to expand the use of shared lane markings on 30 miles of Columbia streets.
The symbols, known as sharrows, will be painted in the middle of the lane on streets too narrow for a bike lane. The symbols are meant to be used as a guide to cyclists that rather than keeping to the far right, they should ride through the center of the symbol.
On streets with cars parked on the side, the marking can help prevent “dooring,” or accidents that occur when a cyclist rides too close to a parked car and a driver opens the car door. The symbols also alert motorists of the cyclist’s possible presence.
The shared-lane symbols will also be painted at points where bike lanes end and a cyclist may be joining the flow of traffic.
Sharrows are a relatively new type of pavement marking, first making their appearance in San Francisco in 2004, and since then spreading to cities throughout the nation. In addition to providing a visual cue to both cyclists and motorists, they can also help to prevent wrong-way riders, cycling against the flow of traffic.
According to some reports, shared-lane markings can be more effective than bike lanes in encouraging cyclists and motorists to pay attention to one another, and may also calm traffic and encourage all road users to share limited street space.
In Colorado, Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins use sharrows on at least some of their streets.
Are there any other cities in our region that use sharrows?