A question from a reader: “Could you give us the story behind the new triangles painted on the pavement at some crosswalks? When I showed pictures to friends and co-workers, nobody knew what they meant.”
Such a series of triangles is called a yield line. They’re informally referred to as “shark’s teeth.” They are used at “uncontrolled” crosswalks — crosswalks in which the driver is not facing a signal or stop sign — and at roundabouts. They are intended to tell the driver where he or she is required to stop if required to yield.
So in this photo the driver is required to yield if a pedestrian enters the crosswalk, whether the shark’s teeth are there or not. The shark’s teeth tell the driver, “Don’t go past this point when yielding to pedestrians.”
What about bicyclists?
A bicyclist using a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian, so a driver approaching the crosswalk must yield to the bicyclist in the crosswalk. A bicyclist on the roadway has the rights and duties of a driver, and must yield to any pedestrian or bicyclist using the crosswalk.
(And here’s a quirky aspect to the law: if the cyclist is crossing from the sidestreet roadway, he or she must yield to traffic on the main road. If the cyclist is riding from the sidewalk into the crosswalk from the same direction, the drivers on the main road must yield to the bicyclist.)