Do sharrows really protect cyclists?

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2022 | Pedestrian accidents

As Dallas-Fort Worth leaders seek to make the area more conducive to cycling, sharrows are increasingly being used. A sharrow is a road marking that consists of two arrowhead-shaped lines (chevrons) over a bicyclist.

Lanes with sharrows can be used by bicyclists as well as drivers. Sharrows let cyclists know they can ride in the lane and also alert drivers to the possible presence of cyclists.

Where can you find sharrows?

Sharrows are typically used in residential areas where the speed limit isn’t over 35 miles per hour (mph). They’re often seen on popular bike routes where there’s not enough room for a bike lane or it’s not practical to have one. They have to be far enough from the curb to be outside the “door zone” where cyclists can be seriously injured by someone opening the door of a parked car. 

The problem with sharrows

While city planners prefer sharrows to dedicated bike lanes because they require less space, many have voiced the opinion that they’re not an adequate substitute for them when it comes to keeping cyclists safe. Cyclists generally agree with that. This is why many areas are finding a way to incorporate bike lanes rather than opt for sharrows.

One study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concluded that sharrows are 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.”

While sharrows can help as a directional guide, keeping cyclists going in the right direction on a bike route, they require drivers to share a lane with cyclists. Of course, that can be extremely dangerous.

Drivers often don’t understand what sharrows are, and what they mean for cars. Too many drivers believe that they have priority in a lane is shared with cyclists. If you or a loved one has been struck by a motorist while biking, the injuries can be catastrophic and long-lasting. It’s crucial to ensure that you receive the compensation you need for your expenses and damages.