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Old 11-01-11, 07:15 AM   #1
JusticeZero
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What is it with drivers and sharrows?

Had another in a list of similar incidents last night. This was the first one that was explicitly goofy enough to really express my bafflement.

I ride all over the place. I ride in the lane.

The city I am in has a few roads that are marked with sharrows. They could be marked more liberally, but still - they have these big bike chevron sharrows in the road.

Sometimes I have incidences where car drivers express ire with me for being in the road. ALWAYS on a sharrowed road.

Last night I was riding home, on a road that is marked actually rather well with sharrows. A truck lagged behind us for a block or so and honked twice, then pulled around. Some guy leaned out the passenger window as they slooowly passed, and called "That's not a bike lane!" I look down, we're practically right on top of a sharrow, at which we point, and there's another one ahead, to which I also point. "These markings disagree!" Truck drove off.

What gives? Do people just not pay attention to, well, any markings?
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Old 11-01-11, 08:43 AM   #2
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Motorists barely know that bikes can be just about anywhere on the road, they barely know what a bike lane means, and for sure they have no idea what sharrows are.

Most drivers think roads are made for cars and bikes don't belong and should be out of the way. That is what you are dealing with in most of America.
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Old 11-01-11, 08:55 AM   #3
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Pay your $$, get a license.
It's too easy to get a DL here.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:25 AM   #4
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I'm curious too why sharrows incite rage. The last two times I was harassed on a road (which is extremely rare) have both been sharrowed roads. One lady yelled to me, "There's no bike lane for a reason!"
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Old 11-01-11, 09:54 AM   #5
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One lady yelled to me, "There's no bike lane for a reason!"

QED. Bike lanes and, to a lesser degree sharrows, reinforce the idea that bicycles should stay off the road and be segregated from traffic.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:02 AM   #6
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The bottom line is the majority of drivers (and for that matter the average Bicylist...not the A&S crowd) has no idea what the heck a sharrow is.

It is my belief that untill there is a ton of education the average person will not have any idea what these are except for specifica areas with high concentrations of sharrows, bikers and eduction.

In general they are very ambiguous....... what the heck does some chevrons mean.... with an occasional bike outine? Look out for cyclists. Even the name, while cute, is ambiguous. What the heck is a sharrow? Something you have to explain the meaning of the label for is doomed to suffer confusion.

Like them or hate them...... bike lanes are far less ambiguous and more firmly state this bike belongs on the road...... there are of couse other issues.... but at the very most basic communication level.... Bike lane is a firm statement, clearly defined words that say what the object is.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:18 AM   #7
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Myself, I am fascinated by why so many people express surprise at
rage exhibited by motorists in the USofA.

Motorist rage here is a well established fact, and is related as much to
crowding and traffic congestion as anything else. Bicyclists are not the
only recipients, so it is foolish of us to personalize these incidents.

The guy on the bicycle is a just convenient outlet, like kicking the dog
or throwing the family cat across the room.

Unlike the dog and the cat, we have more resources with which to respond,
but have thus far done a pretty piss poor job of doing so. Eliminating
such behaviors is gonna be a long struggle, and people are gonna get
hurt in the process. Such is the nature of change.
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Old 11-01-11, 11:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
Myself, I am fascinated by why so many people express surprise at
rage exhibited by motorists in the USofA.

Motorist rage here is a well established fact, and is related as much to
crowding and traffic congestion as anything else. Bicyclists are not the
only recipients, so it is foolish of us to personalize these incidents.

The guy on the bicycle is a just convenient outlet, like kicking the dog
or throwing the family cat across the room.

Unlike the dog and the cat, we have more resources with which to respond,
but have thus far done a pretty piss poor job of doing so. Eliminating
such behaviors is gonna be a long struggle, and people are gonna get
hurt in the process. Such is the nature of change.
Road rage DOES occur motorist to motorist, so indeed the problem is NOT specific to cyclists... just yesterday I drove to work and encountered motorists who wholly disregarded my turn signals and attempted to cut me off before I could change lanes... now of course I am driving a wide cage, and I am already ahead, so I just complete my lane change as long signaled. No doubt this may have caused consternation for that motorist... who apparently forgot to share (or recall that those in front of you have ROW).

So indeed rage on the road is not specific to cyclists... however we do get the verbal brunt of it, and since we are not in cages, we cyclists are vulnerable to aggressive motorists. Time and time I have said it, and I will continue to say it... getting a drivers license in the US is too easy and not nearly enough training is given. Rules change, new features are added, such as sharrows, and far too many motorists are poorly trained to begin with. Road use should be part of the public school curriculum... starting with proper bicycle use and the rules of the road, and moving on to the laws and ethics of driving. Until motorists are properly trained, we will continue to have drivers that make up the rules as they go.
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Old 11-01-11, 11:17 AM   #9
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Well until I started reading up on it, I wouldn't have known what a sharrow was either, but then I am in the UK.

Over here, chevrons are used to mark the gap that motorists should leave between vehicles. They are not used every where, mainly accident blackspots and mainly motorways.

Our "bike lanes" are either purely cycle lanes or shared with buses, taxis and motorcycles (go figure). That said, those cycle lanes that are A: solely for the use of pedal cycles and B: in the gutter of the road, are clearly marked with the picture of a cycle at start, finish and intersections and with little blue signs. Some even have green tarmac. More to the point, most people know what a cycle lane is over here.
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Old 11-01-11, 11:28 AM   #10
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Well until I started reading up on it, I wouldn't have known what a sharrow was either, but then I am in the UK.

Over here, chevrons are used to mark the gap that motorists should leave between vehicles. They are not used every where, mainly accident blackspots and mainly motorways.

Our "bike lanes" are either purely cycle lanes or shared with buses, taxis and motorcycles (go figure). That said, those cycle lanes that are A: solely for the use of pedal cycles and B: in the gutter of the road, are clearly marked with the picture of a cycle at start, finish and intersections and with little blue signs. Some even have green tarmac. More to the point, most people know what a cycle lane is over here.
I am curious, "over there" just how difficult is it to obtain a driver's license?
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Old 11-01-11, 11:31 AM   #11
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Road rage DOES occur motorist to motorist, so indeed the problem is NOT specific to cyclists... just yesterday I drove to work and encountered motorists who wholly disregarded my turn signals and attempted to cut me off before I could change lanes... now of course I am driving a wide cage, and I am already ahead, so I just complete my lane change as long signaled. No doubt this may have caused consternation for that motorist... who apparently forgot to share (or recall that those in front of you have ROW).

So indeed rage on the road is not specific to cyclists... however we do get the verbal brunt of it, and since we are not in cages, we cyclists are vulnerable to aggressive motorists. Time and time I have said it, and I will continue to say it... getting a drivers license in the US is too easy and not nearly enough training is given. Rules change, new features are added, such as sharrows, and far too many motorists are poorly trained to begin with. Road use should be part of the public school curriculum... starting with proper bicycle use and the rules of the road, and moving on to the laws and ethics of driving. Until motorists are properly trained, we will continue to have drivers that make up the rules as they go.
Agreed with all this. Road rage IS a generalized problem, but as you say it's most dangerous for those of us not in motor vehicles. The increase in cyclists alone is enough reason by itself to crack down on rage, but it isn't the only valid reason. Getting the small percentage of drivers who are the worst, most aggressive jerks off of the road permanently (or somehow reforming their behavior/rehabilitating them) would benefit everyone greatly, including the vast majority of people in motor vehicles who aren't jerks.

As for sharrows, I believe that very few motorists have even heard of them, much less know what they are for or what they legally signify (nothing). Those that aren't so oblivious that they don't even notice them often don't understand the difference between sharrows and bike lanes (I've checked on this by casually discussing them with a number of non-cyclists). And they often think that the purpose of bike lanes is to constrain the behavior of cyclists rather than the behavior of motorists, so the whole idea of a sharrow is somewhat alien to them. OTOH, I do think that sharrows have more potential to change the behavior of some of the less predictable cyclists. Even if they don't affect motorist behavior much at all, they might increase predictability by encouraging inexperienced cyclists to ride in the correct direction, further out from the curb, etc (assuming that they are not placed hugging the curb).
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Old 11-01-11, 12:16 PM   #12
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Lane-centered sharrows have provided an interesting opportunity to engage traffic engineers, politicians, and police in discussion on the subject of roadway cycling here in NC. It is gradually changing their paradigm of bicycling safety and road sharing from one of "bicyclists must be kept out of the way of motorists for safety" to one of "bicyclists are entitled to the travel lanes and motorists must accept them and operate responsibly as a result."

I think it is important for these public servants to be involved early in the dialog so that they can convey an accurate message to the motoring and bicycling population over time. Motorists and bicyclists who are confused about the markings will ask their public servants about them, and we want them to receive the right message.
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Old 11-01-11, 12:44 PM   #13
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I've had 2 sharrow related incidents recently on my commute. I was riding right on the sharrows where I was supposed to be, and moving to the right when large enough gaps appeared. However this lady thought I shouldn't be there and passed making all sorts of commotion about me moving over. Half a block later she is completely stopped in traffic with her front wheel right at a sharrow. I kindly stop on the sharrow and tell her that she is wrong and that is where I am supposed to be. She didn't take much issue after that.
Other guy was more of a honk, pass, break check and then "you know what happens when you get hit by a car?" type of guy.

Even speaking with friends, a lot don't know what sharrows mean.
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Old 11-01-11, 12:47 PM   #14
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You mean having the words "RED means STOP." in a bold, large, red font with goofy capitalization in your signature didn't make all the drivers instantly love you? Another myth busted.
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Old 11-01-11, 12:47 PM   #15
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I'm curious too why sharrows incite rage. The last two times I was harassed on a road (which is extremely rare) have both been sharrowed roads. One lady yelled to me, "There's no bike lane for a reason!"
There is a reason. I'm sure she thinks that the reason is that bikes aren't supposed to be on the road. Of course, she's wrong about that.

I haven't encountered actual rage in sharrows. I've had only one person honk at me (on San Diego Ave going into Old Town). I pointed down at the sharrow marker as I passed over it. They stopped honking.

I've had a couple of weird passes in sharrows while I was riding at the posted maximum speed limit (25mph on Adams Ave in North Park). For some reason they couldn't handle being behind a bicycle even at the speed limit and they nearly got into head on collisions passing me.
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Old 11-01-11, 01:27 PM   #16
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I think it is important for these public servants to be involved early in the dialog so that they can convey
an accurate message to the motoring and bicycling population over time. Motorists and bicyclists who are
confused about the markings will ask their public servants about them, and we want them to receive the right message.
I, OTOH, would dearly love to get their asses on bicycles.
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Old 11-01-11, 02:17 PM   #17
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It's not that i'm surprised by rage. It's that i'm puzzled that ALL of the incidents I recall with angry entitlement-crazed cars have involved me being in lanes marked with numerous bicycle sharrow markers (each one is a picture of a bicycle with a chevron in the direction of travel).
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Old 11-01-11, 02:25 PM   #18
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The bottom line is the majority of drivers (and for that matter the average Bicylist...not the A&S crowd) has no idea what the heck a sharrow is.
Add me to that list. I saw them for the first time as a driver visiting Alexandria/DC recently, and they confused the hell out of me. No idea what they were trying to convey, or why there were some here but not there, or that they didn't correlate with the bike route signs. Distracting and ultimately pointless.

KeS
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Old 11-01-11, 08:50 PM   #19
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I am curious, "over there" just how difficult is it to obtain a driver's license?
Try http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring...Test/index.htm

I'm unfamiliar with US state requirements, but I did see a programme about a Brit buying a house in Florida. He passed the Florida theory/multiple choice test with flying colours without even looking at any books/practice tests beforehand. He also passed the actual driving part of the test on what was a glorified carpark with road markings and signs, but was then failed because, when told he'd passed, he started to drive off and ignored the aforementioned signs (it wasn't on a road, after all) and was failed for doing so. I am open to correction, but would it be possible to practice on a similar layout to the actual test area and then be passed as fit to drive without ever going on the road?

What I found utterly ludicrous was the fact that you could pass the test without being tested in traffic!!!! How, in the name of a non-existent deity can any state confirm that you are capable of driving safely in traffic, without demonstrating it in traffic?

And don't get me started on the crazy idea that 15 year olds can get a licence in California and, presumably, in other states. What legislative idiots came to the conclusion that kids of that age are sufficiently mature to be in charge of a potentially lethal weapon?

By a strange coincidence, doesn't Florida have the worst traffic collision/injury/fatality record of any US state?
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Old 11-01-11, 09:40 PM   #20
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I'm curious too why sharrows incite rage. The last two times I was harassed on a road (which is extremely rare) have both been sharrowed roads. One lady yelled to me, "There's no bike lane for a reason!"
Thus reinforcing the notion (at least in her mind) that no bike lane means that bikes are not allowed on the road.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:41 PM   #21
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QED. Bike lanes and, to a lesser degree sharrows, reinforce the idea that bicycles should stay off the road and be segregated from traffic.
I can see that with bike lanes (segregated or not) but how do sharrows reinforce that idea?
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Old 11-01-11, 09:51 PM   #22
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Road rage DOES occur motorist to motorist, so indeed the problem is NOT specific to cyclists... just yesterday I drove to work and encountered motorists who wholly disregarded my turn signals and attempted to cut me off before I could change lanes... now of course I am driving a wide cage, and I am already ahead, so I just complete my lane change as long signaled. No doubt this may have caused consternation for that motorist... who apparently forgot to share (or recall that those in front of you have ROW).

So indeed rage on the road is not specific to cyclists... however we do get the verbal brunt of it, and since we are not in cages, we cyclists are vulnerable to aggressive motorists. Time and time I have said it, and I will continue to say it... getting a drivers license in the US is too easy and not nearly enough training is given. Rules change, new features are added, such as sharrows, and far too many motorists are poorly trained to begin with. Road use should be part of the public school curriculum... starting with proper bicycle use and the rules of the road, and moving on to the laws and ethics of driving. Until motorists are properly trained, we will continue to have drivers that make up the rules as they go.


Not just motorists but cyclists as well. As witnessed by the number of cyclists who think that the law(s) do not or should not apply to them.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:09 PM   #23
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There is a reason. I'm sure she thinks that the reason is that bikes aren't supposed to be on the road. Of course, she's wrong about that.

I haven't encountered actual rage in sharrows. I've had only one person honk at me (on San Diego Ave going into Old Town). I pointed down at the sharrow marker as I passed over it. They stopped honking.

I've had a couple of weird passes in sharrows while I was riding at the posted maximum speed limit (25mph on Adams Ave in North Park). For some reason they couldn't handle being behind a bicycle even at the speed limit and they nearly got into head on collisions passing me.


I agree, last week (as I think I've said in another thread) I had the driver of a white pickup behind me rev his engine thinking that he'd intimidate me into moving out of his "way." The irony is that this road has a max speed limit of 15MPH. A speed that ironically as a cyclist I have to "fight" not to exceed. How is that for irony? The cyclist having to worry about speeding.

And he didn't just rev his engine once he revved it twice. I just held my speed and the lane. After he got out of his truck and was walking towards the bait shop he stopped and asked me how fast was I going. I told him that I was going 15MPH. He then made some comment about my riding in the middle of the road. He did compliment me on my lights and reflectors. He also said that he thought that one day I might end up under the "A-Frame" of some car.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:10 PM   #24
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I, OTOH, would dearly love to get their asses on bicycles.
+1,000
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Old 11-01-11, 10:28 PM   #25
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And he didn't just rev his engine once he revved it twice. I just held my speed and the lane. After he got out of his truck and was walking towards the bait shop he stopped and asked me how fast was I going. I told him that I was going 15MPH. He then made some comment about my riding in the middle of the road. He did compliment me on my lights and reflectors. He also said that he thought that one day I might end up under the "A-Frame" of some car.
"A-Frame" of some car? A tow bar maybe?
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