“SHARROWS”, OR SHARED LANE MARKINGS NEW HIGHWAY SYMBOL IN BATAVIA
Written by WBTA STAFF on July 10, 2019
National and Local efforts to incorporate bicyclists in any new road project are finding their way into the City of Batavia. “Complete Streets” is the term that is used for any street or highway, or any reconstruction of an existing highway, to consider the effect on bicyclists and pedestrians. Where possible, accommodation of these two groups should be incorporated into the project. This has happened in the City of Batavia, where the most recent update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan encourages a “Complete Streets” approach. East Avenue and Liberty Street now have “sharrows”, or shared lane markings (SLM), meaning that the streets, which have only one travel lane in each direction, are shared with bicycles in a wide (14 feet or more) lane (see picture).
Shared lane markings are high-visibility pavement markings that help position bicyclists within the travel lane. These markings are often used on streets where dedicated bike lanes are desirable but are not possible due to physical or other constraints. Shared lane markings are placed in the travel lane to alert motorists of bicycle traffic, while also encouraging cyclists to ride at an appropriate distance from the “door zone” of adjacent parked cars.
If there is enough room, a separate bike lane should be marked. Dedicated bike lanes do impact the ability to accommodate on street parking and often there just isn’t enough room to accommodate them. Further complicating the issue for bicyclists are streets where parking is allowed, as drivers often open their doors without looking for bicycles approaching from the rear. Bicyclists have been seriously injured by riding into a car door opened by a driver or rear-seat passenger without regard for bicycles.
The “sharrow” pavement markings should be supplemented with a Bicycle Warning Sign (see picture). Federal and state criteria designate where the sharrows and the warning signs should and should not be used. For bicyclists, where the sharrows are painted on the pavement, it only means that both bicycles and vehicles must use the same lane, and caution should be used by both. Vehicles should give bicyclists plenty of room when overtaking bicycles and bicyclists should realize that vehicles will be passing them. Providing marked facilities such as shared lane markings is one way of helping to persuade residents to give bicycling a try and remind motorists that the roadway is to be shared with bicycles.