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Picture of "chevron" style shared lane marking.

A shared-lane marking or sharrow[1] is a roadway marking installed at locations in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This marking is used within travel lanes shared by bicyclists and other vehicles. The name "sharrow" was coined by Oliver Gajda, of the City and County of San Francisco Bicycle Program, as a combination of SHared lane and ARROW.



In the English-speaking world, the concept for this marking may have originally developed in Portsmouth in the 1970s using standard bicycle logos painted on the road. This approach is still used in the UK, Australia and other countries. A variation developed in the US city of Denver in the 1990s consisted of an outline arrow with a bicycle symbol inside. In US usage, the wide shape of the arrow, combined with the bike symbol, gave rise to unofficial names such as "bike in a house" or "sharrow".

In 2004, the city of San Francisco, California began experimenting with the shared lane marking,[2] and developed a revised symbol consisting of a bicycle symbol with two chevron markings above the bicycle.

The stated purposes of the shared-lane markings used in California were to:

  • Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist’s impacting the open door of a parked vehicle;
  • Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane;
  • Alert road users of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way;
  • Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists; and
  • Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.


Based on the San Francisco experimental data, in August 2004 the California Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC) approved the use of this marking in the State of California.[3]

Sharrows alternating with full bike lanes in Grand Street (Manhattan)

Several US cities are participating in federally approved experiments with this marking at this time, including:[4]

Other US jurisdictions have also installed this marking, but are not participating in US federally approved or sanctioned experiments. There is a concern that the shared lane markings installed in some of these locations are not consistent with recent recommendations on marking design and positioning.

In January 2007, the US National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) endorsed the shared lane marking concept, and has recommended its inclusion in the US Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).[6]

The city of Seattle, Washington included extensive use of shared lane markings in its Bicycle Master Plan of early 2007.[7]


  • Victoria, BC — In July 2009, "activist" cyclists calling themselves the Other Urban Repair Squad twice painted markings on congested Hillside Avenue but the City of Victoria immediately dispatched crews to cover the markings with gray paint. [8] [9]
  • Toronto also features "sharrows" on several streets.
  • Edmonton has begun to install "sharrows" on several streets in 2009.
  • Saskatoon installed sharrows on most of its downtown streets in 2009.
  • Winnipeg has begun to use "sharrows" since 2008.


  • This marking has been included in the new 2009 edition of the Federal MUTCH.[10]
  • This marking is not included in the current 2003 edition of the Federal MUTCD.
  • The Federal Highway Administration has included the shared lane marking in a draft of a proposed new edition of the MUTCD[11]
  • Until the shared lane marking is formally adopted as part of a new edition of the MUTCD, use of this marking in the US is still considered experimental, and is permitted only under experimental authorization issued by the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Exception: This marking is authorized for use within the state of California in accordance with Section 9C.103 of the California MUTCD.[12]


See also

External links



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