Sharrows in the Lane

There is a buzz in the San Diego bike community. It is bike month and everyone is talking about the new “Sharrows” that are popping up around the city. If you don’t already know, Sharrows are street markings that depict a bicycle below two chevrons. The purpose of the sharrow is to bring awareness to car drivers that bicycles have a right to the road and to educate bicycle riders on proper lane positioning and direction.

San Diego's Sharrow Placers, Rose Chavez and Laura Avila. Photo by Aaron Garland

This is a new thing for many of us in San Diego, but it is legitimate and has been approved nationally. In 2004, California was the first state to adopted the Sharrow as an official road marking. Many other states followed and in 2009 it was officially included in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices by the Federal Highway Administration.

Sharrows help remind cyclists to stay clear of the opening doors of parked cars (door zone), and to ride in the center of the lane when it is unsafe for other vehicles to pass (take the lane). They also remind everyone that cyclists have the same right to the road as drivers of motor vehicles.

Last Friday, I was fortunate to meet Rose Chavez and Laura Avila who work for the City of San Diego’s Streets Division. These ladies are the workers in the field laying down the thermoplastic sharrows. They came direct with orders from Jim Lundquist, the city’s Bicycle Coordinator. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and pride that Rose and Laura took in their work. They admitted that there was a little bit of a learning curve with setting down these new to San Diego road markings. They explained that they had orders to place Sharrows 3 feet from the road edge in areas without street parking, 11 feet from the edge of the street in areas with parallel parking, and that there was at least one sharrow they would have to remove and replace in order to have proper road placement of all the Sharrows. They also chimed in that they were not on the pot-hole crew, so unfortunately they couldn’t personally help me out with this obvious cycling hazard that seems to plague most of San Diego. I hope the pot-hole crew has workers as dedicated as Rose and Laura. It made me feel good to meet Rose and Laura, because it was apparent that in their jobs with the City of San Diego they strive to improve road conditions for everyone, and that they are conscientious and concerned with the needs of vulnerable road users.

More new Sharrows on Terrace Drive by Adams Avenue.

Keep an eye out for Rose and Laura, as they along with Jim and others in the city that help improve road conditions deserve our thanks and praise, as well as feedback on our needs as road users.