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Shared Lane Markings (Sharrows)

Shared Lane Marking (sometimes called sharrows) are street markings that are installed in a few locations on Milwaukee streets as an awareness tool to serve two main purposes:

  • Provide guidance to bicyclists as to where they should ride on a shared roadway as in away from the open door area of parked cars; not weaving in and out of traffic; riding with traffic, not against it; not riding on sidewalks, etc.
  • Alert motorists to the possible presence of bicyclists, set expectations as to where the bicyclists will be riding, and as a reminder to share the road.

Shared Lane Markings are a relatively new pavement marking. They were approved for use nationally by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in December 2009 after several years of research and testing in various cities around the U.S.

Studies of shared lane markings from other communities have shown several benefits:

  • Bicyclists position themselves further from parked cars to stay out of the door zone
  • Passing motorists give more room to bicyclists
  • Fewer bicyclists ride on the sidewalk
  • Fewer bicyclists ride the wrong way

Shared lane markings are not a replacement for bicycle lanes, but are used only in certain circumstances such as a disconnect in the existing bike lane network, a lack of parallel routes, slower vehicle speeds, significant bicycle traffic, and/or an inability to remove parking to add a bike lane.