Why sharrows don’t always protect bicyclists

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2021 | Personal Injury

Avid bikers have noted that Dallas has yet to become the bike-friendly city that the City Council envisioned a decade ago when it adopted a plan for some 1,300 miles of bike routes that would result in “wide-spread use of bicycles” throughout the area.

Almost a year ago, the head of transportation here in Dallas admitted that “we couldn’t do a whole lot other than sharrows,” which have a questionable effect on bicyclists’ safety. A sharrow (a combination of the words “share” and “arrow”) is a road marking that’s an image of a bike with two arrow-shaped lines over it. The president of BikeDFW called them an “interim stopgap” until more dedicated bike lanes could be created.

Where are sharrows intended to be used?

Sharrows are meant to be used on popular bike routes in residential areas and only where the speed limit is 35 mph or lower. They’re typically used where there’s not room for a dedicated bike lane. They’re required to be positioned outside the “door zone” along the curb where too many cyclists are seriously injured.

Since sharrows appear in lanes where vehicles travel, they aren’t as safe as bike lanes. In fact, one study concluded that they’re a “cheap alternative that not only fails to solve a pressing safety issue, but actually makes the issue worse through a sense of false security.” Therefore, many city planners have gotten away from using them after just a few decades and returned to designing streets with dedicated bike lanes, even though they’re not as easy to incorporate in to a plan.

Sharrows don’t always impact drivers’ behavior

As a bicyclist, if you need to ride in a lane with sharrows, it’s crucial to remember that some drivers don’t understand what they are, while others simply don’t care. They believe that since they have the larger, more powerful mode of transportation, they have more rights – even in a lane that’s meant to be shared.

If you’re injured by a driver, whether in a lane with sharrows or not, make sure you know the full extent of your injuries, medical costs and other expenses and damages (including lost wages) before you accept any insurance settlement. An experienced attorney can help you protect your rights and work to get the compensation you need.