More about Sharrows


I rode through Winter Park on my way to work yesterday so I could take photos of the new Sharrows on Palmer Ave. I want to congratulate the City of Winter Park and its bike/ped board and traffic manager, Butch Margraf, for this excellent implementation!

The purpose of sharrows, technically known as Shared Lane Markings, is primarily to indicate a cyclist’s right to the lane. It does not confer this right, it just informs road users of it. Cyclists have the right to the lane on every road and only have to ride to the right and share a lane that is 14 feet or wider AND has unobstructed pavement on the right third AND when this position does not otherwise interfere with a cyclist’s safe operation.

The hope is that the presence of a properly placed sharrow will encourage cyclists to use a safer lane position in a narrow lane. There is some debate as to whether they are intended to demonstrate lane position, or just to alert motorists to the presence (and legitimacy) of cyclists in the lane.

A common use of sharrows (and, I believe, the official use in California) is to replace bike lanes next to on street parking and encourage cyclists to ride farther from parked cars. In this use, they do demonstrate lateral position (in the MUTCD guidelines the placement is WAY TOO CLOSE to the parked cars—the document recommends 11 feet from the curb, it should be at least 13… but this is a topic for another post).

Their use on Palmer Ave. is to alert motorists that cyclists have a right to the entire lane and to encourage cyclists to ride on the road (not the sidewalk) and in the lane (not hugging the curb). This marking is not meant to indicate where a cyclist should ride. It is not necessary to ride in the middle of the lane, in most cases (although, you have a right to do that in a narrow lane!). The left side of the right tire track (about 4 feet from the edge) is a good position on Palmer. However, it is a good idea to move to the left tire track before that silly median to prevent motorists from trying to pass and cut you off.

As I’ve said before, I’m looking forward to seeing more of these in Central Florida. And even more than that, I’m looking forward to seeing bicyclists riding in safe lane positions — as the norm and not just an amazing, remarkable, freak occurrence which turns out to be an optical illusion.

5 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Does anyone want to contribute six gallons of white paint?

    Yehuda Moon has it all together.

    On a more relevant note, my commute in the Daytona area takes me all over, on no regular path and the roads are certainly under 14 feet in width. I’ve found that I have to ride in the center, or sometimes left of center to keep dangerous passing attempts at bay and this is on multi-lane roads. I’m also in the less-than-enviable-position of being the only VC practising rider in east central Volusia county, to the best of my knowledge. It’s lonely in the middle of the road sometimes 🙂

    Even one of the local bike shops is staffed with those who would practice and promote inferiority cycling, unfortunately. I had observed one of the staff riding on an 8 foot lane, on the 3 inch paint stripe and on the 3 inch pavement to the right of that. To that right was the guardrail. I rode alongside and told him he “needed to get into the road” and he waved me off, unfortunately. Upon visiting the shop, I unfortunately let my adrenaline from riding take over my better judgement and ended up arguing with the three inhabitants of the store. The same old tired arguments: bikes have no rights to using the road, roads were not designed for biking, it’s inconsiderate to slow down the drivers, probably every argument a VC rider has heard before, but this was so much more painful for being heard in a bike shop from alleged bicyclists.

    Having sharrows all over this county might go some distance to alleviating this ridiculous attitude. By the way, it was suggested that I leave the shop! LOL I probably won’t be back, but it’s my own fault.

  2. Keri
    Keri says:


    When I ride on a multi-lane road, I tend to ride a little farther left than on a 2-lane road because there is no reason for straddle-passing — motorists can use the other lane. On a 2-lane road I try to find the balance between facilitating safe passing and discouraging attempts to pass when it is not safe. Most of the time that’s somewhere between the right tire track and the middle of the lane. On really narrow lanes (9ft), the right tire track is fine because the presence of a cyclist visually fills half the lane.

    I love Yehuda, except when he’s painting bike lanes. Ech! He should know better.

    Fighting mythologies and taboos takes time and patience… and a bit of strategy.

  3. Eric
    Eric says:


    For Immediate Release: August 6, 2008

    WINTER PARK – an internationally recognized ICMA Excellence Award winner – Attention all bicyclists, motorists and road users! In an effort to improve traffic safety for cyclists and drivers alike, the City of Winter Park has added shared lane bicycle markings (sharrows) on Palmer Avenue, designating the street as an east-west bicycle route. The shared lanes between Alabama Drive and Lakemont Avenue are now complete. The shared lanes between Park Avenue and Alabama Drive will be complete when the current construction on Palmer Avenue is finished in approximately three weeks.

    These markings are intended to inform cyclists and motorists that the travel lane may be shared by both vehicles. They have been proven to be helpful in places where cyclists often ride too close to parked cars, where motorists could squeeze cyclists against curbs*, and in situations where it is not always clear where cyclists should be riding, such as intersections with multiple turning lanes.

    When traffic lanes are too narrow to be shared by bicyclists and passing motorists side-by-side, the new shared lane markings can reduce the incidence of wrong-way cycling and eliminate some of the need for bike route signs, thereby reducing sign clutter.

    The city plans to install these markings on other roadways designated as bicycle routes in the city’s updated Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation Plan. For more information, please contact the city’s Public Works Department at 407-599-3411.

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  2. […] Lane Markings were not intended to be a lane position indicator. They were intended to be used as Winter Park has used them on […]

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