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Shared lane marking

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A shared-lane marking in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Note that the cyclist is not properly positioned on the roadway; they are in the door zone of the parked car and vulnerable to being "doored". Cyclists should ride over the sharrow.
A shared-lane marking in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

A shared lane marking, shared-lane marking, or sharrow is a street marking installed at various locations worldwide, such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Spain, and the United States. This marking is placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.[1][better source needed]


These markings are used in the USA, Australia, and other countries. In US usage, the wide shape of the arrow, combined with the bike symbol, gave rise to unofficial names such as "bike in a house" or "sharrow". In the UK roughly the same function is served by a bicycle symbol without arrows. However, this tends to be used more as an indication of a formal cycle route rather than as an encouragement to share the road.

The original "bike in a house" or "man jumping barrels at home" marking was developed by James Mackay and included in the 1993 Denver Bicycle Master Plan.[2] While Mackay had considered a "connect the dots" pavement markings approach for bicycle route definition and cyclist lane positioning reinforcement (during his time as the Bicycle Facilities Engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation), the City of Denver's unwillingness to commit to bike lane markings meant that shared lane markings were the only pavement marking treatment for bicyclists that the City would implement. The hollow arrow surrounding the cyclist was intended to reinforce the correct direction of travel for bicyclists (who were frequently observed riding the wrong way, against traffic, in Denver).[3]

In 2004, the city of San Francisco, California began experimenting with the shared lane marking, and developed a revised symbol consisting of a bicycle symbol with two chevron markings above the bicycle.[4] In the process, the name sharrow was coined by Oliver Gajda, of the City and County of San Francisco Bicycle Program, and is a portmanteau of share and arrow.[5][6][a]

In a 2009 paper, Northeastern University researcher Peter G. Furth proposed the "Bicycle Priority Lane", which combines sharrows with dotted lines inside the usual lane markings.[8] This marks a five-foot-wide zone in the center of the lane which bicyclists are encouraged to use. The city of Boston, Massachusetts began experimenting with these markings in 2013.[9]


Shared-lane markings alternating with full bike lanes in Grand Street (Manhattan).

Behavioral studies prepared for the Federal Highway Administration and the city of San Francisco have shown that streets with shared lane arrows increase separation between motor vehicles and cyclists, encourage cyclists to ride outside of the door zone, and may reduce wrong way cycling and sidewalk cycling, which are associated with increased crash risk.[10][11]

However, another study published in the journal Injury Prevention based on hospital records shows no statistically significant reduction in injuries, and possibly a small increase.[12]

A 2016 study commissioned by the Transportation Research Board conducted a comprehensive longitudinal analysis of census block groups in Chicago.[13] Block groups were categorized in one of 3 categories: block groups with bike lanes installed, block groups with sharrows only, and block groups with no cycling infrastructure. The authors found that blocks with bike lanes experienced a significantly larger increase in bicycle commuters than block groups with sharrows, which were only a bit better than those without infrastructure. Block groups with only sharrows installed were significantly less effective at reducing injuries per year per commuter than both block groups with bike lanes and even as block groups with no infrastructure. The study concludes that these findings raise concerns on the effectiveness of sharrows as a safety measure and as an incentive to bicycle commuting. In the discussion on this study it was criticized that block groups were compared instead of streets.[14]


North America[edit]

The US Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices says shared-lane markings may be used to:[15]

A. Assist cyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist impacting the open door of a parked vehicle;

B. Assist cyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane;
C. Alert motorists of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way;
D. Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists; and

E. Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.[15]

Based on the San Francisco experimental data, in August 2004 the California Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC) approved the use of this marking in California.[16] In the 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, shared lane markings were approved for general use.[17] The city of Seattle, Washington included extensive use of shared lane markings in its Bicycle Master Plan of early 2007.[18] The concept has since been implemented by cities throughout the United States.[19]

Shared lane marking has been adopted in Canada, being used in localities ranging from Montreal[20] to Vancouver.[21]


Advisory lane (on the right) and shared lane (on the left) in Vichy, France
Cyklopiktokoridor in Prague
Bike logos between tram rails in Bremen

For several years, the traffic rules of France have allowed shared lanes, they're called voies partagées, in addition to two types of dedicated bike lanes. One of those is obligatory, the other one is not obligatory, but also reserved for bicycles. All have the same pictograms on the street surface, but are distinguished by roadside signs.

In the Czech Republic, a series of sharrows on shared lanes are called Cyklopiktokoridor which translates as "cycle pictogram corridors". For cycle lanes with marked limits, a strict type and a soft type exist (as in France), and are distinguished by different pictograms.

The concept of shared lane markings has also appeared in Spain [22] and New Zealand.[23]

In Germany, the concept is not yet established officially, but some local authorities use simple bike logos for the same purpose, without having a specific term for them.

In Latvia, a single street in its capital Riga has markings indicating the lanes as "recommended cycle lanes", however legally this marking is not defined and consequently there are no differences to any other road with shared traffic.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Compare Feb 2004 report, which uses shared lane marking, and minutes of July 2004 meeting, which uses sharrow.[4][7]


  1. ^ 23rd Streetscape Project, City of Richmond website, access date December 28, 2008
  2. ^ Staff (August 1993). 1993 Denver Bicycle Master Plan (PDF). City and County of Denver (Report). {{cite report}}: Unknown parameter |agency= ignored (help)
  3. ^ E-mail from James Mackay to John S. Allen, May 21, 2011
  4. ^ a b "San Francisco's Shared Lane Pavement Markings: Improving Bicycle Safety", February 2004" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 December 2007. Alt URL
  5. ^ San Francisco Bay Bikers blog entry on San Francisco Chronicle site
  6. ^ DeAnda, Mark (17 June 2016). "How the SFMTA Invented – and Named – the Bike 'Sharrow'". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  7. ^ San Francisco Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC): Regular Meeting Minutes, Wednesday, July 21, 2004
  8. ^ Peter G. Furth (8 January 2009). "Bicycle Priority Lanes: A Proposal for Marking Shared Lanes" (PDF). Retrieved 1 December 2013. Alternate URL
  9. ^ Martine Powers (20 November 2013). "Starts and Stops: New 'sharrows on steroids' debut on Allston's Brighton Ave". Boston Globe.
  10. ^ "Evaluation of Shared Lane Markings" (PDF). Federal Highway Administration. October 2010. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  11. ^ Alta Planning and Design (February 2004). "San Francisco's Shared Lane Pavement Markings: Improving Bicycle Safety" (PDF). San Francisco Department of Parking & Traffic. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  12. ^ Harris MA, Reynolds CC, Winters M, et al. (October 2013). "Comparing the effects of infrastructure on bicycling injury at intersections and non-intersections using a case-crossover design". Injury Prevention. 19 (5): 303–10. doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2012-040561. PMC 3786647. PMID 23411678.
  13. ^ N, Ferenchak, Nicholas; E, Marshall, Wesley (1 January 2016). "The Relative (In)Effectiveness of Bicycle Sharrows on Ridership and Safety Outcomes". TRB 95th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Study: Sharrows Don't Make Streets Safer for Cycling". 14 January 2016.
  15. ^ a b Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Part 9, Traffic Control for Bicycle Facilities, US Federal Highway Administration, 2009
  16. ^ CTCDC Minutes, August 12, 2004 Archived February 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, 2009 Edition Chapter 9C. Markings". FHWA - US DOT. Section 9C.07: US DOT - FHA. Retrieved 29 December 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  18. ^ "Two more weeks to comment on city bike plan", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 4, 2007
  19. ^ ATSSA webpage on MUTCD experimentation & interpretation letters
  20. ^ Christopher deWolf. "Follow the sharrows." Spacing Montreal, August 29, 2007
  21. ^ "Sharrows, shared use markings"
  22. ^ "Red de carriles bici"
  23. ^ "Dunedin.Scoop » Sharrow Road Marking Trial".
  24. ^ "Rekomendējošās velojoslas nedod priekšroku ne autovadītājiem, ne riteņbraucējiem".

External links[edit]