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Dallas Gets Sharrows by Waco Moore

Submitted by on July 30, 2012 – 6:56 pm12 Comments

Here’s a peek at the new shared lane markings (a.k.a. “sharrows”) recently installed on MLK Blvd. in Dallas. These are some of the very first on-street facilities implemented as part of the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan.

Properly Placed Sharrows on MLK Blvd

As you can see from this photo, the city got the placement of the sharrows just right–in the center of the effective travel lane, OUTSIDE the DOOR ZONE.

Often sharrows are placed too far to the right, guiding cyclists into points of conflict like the opening doors of parked cars or the paths of turning motorists.  Proper placement of the shared lane markings helps to ensure that cyclists ride in the correct part of the lane, minimizing risks for cyclists and eliminating many common conflicts with motorists. In this case, the markings are placed right where a smart, experienced cyclist would ride–out of the door zone and in the safest part of the lane.

Good job, Dallas!

What the heck is a “sharrow” anyway?

The term “sharrow” is a combination of the words “share” and “arrow” and is a popular term used to refer to “shared lane markings.”

Shared lane markings are pavement markings that consist of a bicycle symbol and a chevron or arrow. They are intended to:

  • Indicate to bicyclists where to ride in the lane.
  • Indicate to motorists the lateral location bicyclists are expected to occupy in the lane.
  • Help bicyclists avoid the “door zone” by keeping a safe distance from parked cars.
  • Remind bicyclists to “use full lane” in lanes that are too narrow to share (which according to Texas law is any lane less than 14 feet wide–most of the streets in Dallas).
  • Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists.
  • Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

Planners have a variety of tools at their disposal and sharrows are a frequently used alternative to bike lanes with a variety of benefits for both cyclists and motorists.  They are often employed in situations where streets are too narrow for a bike lane, or simply where planners do not want to remove a “normal” travel lane to make room for a dedicated bike lane. Sharrows are relatively inexpensive to implement and much easier to maintain than bike lanes.  Many cyclists like sharrows because they are a strong reminder that “bikes belong” and they reinforce the rules of the road.

Map of the route shown in the above video:

I’ve been riding bikes since I could reach the pedals. These days, I’m the guy on the three-speed with the little girl on back. You might see me taking my 5-year-old to school, the park, the pool, the grocery store, or just out having fun. I ride to my office downtown when I can, which lately has been almost every day. (Yes, we do have a showers at work!) I grew up in Dallas but have also spent many years living and working in NYC and other points around the globe. I currently live in the Preston Hollow neighborhood with my wonderful wife and daughter. You can follow me on Google+ or email me. I share the joy of cycling in Dallas with others through teaching CyclingSavvy DFW.

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Waco Moore

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