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Shared Lane Markings (Sharrows)

Shared lane markings (sometimes called sharrows) 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.


Shared lane markings serve two main purposes:

  • Provide guidance to bicyclists as to where they should ride on a shared roadway to reduce their chances of being hit by an opening car door
  • Alert motorists to the possible presence of bicyclists, set expectations as to where the bicyclists will be riding, and remind all street users to share the road

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. These markings should only be used 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 make space to add a bike lane.

 Examples of shared bike lane markings on both sides of a city street


Illustration of proper way bicyclists and motorists should engage with each other on a road with shared lane markings. Bicyclists may ride in path of the shared lane markings. Motorists should not pass bicyclists unless there is a safe passing clearance of at least 3 ft.