|Bike lanes, not parking.|
It is amazing what this simple change to a street does for cyclists. It graphically informs both the driver and the cyclist that this is a shared lane and that the cyclist is expected to ride in the lane and traffic is expected to change lanes to pass.
After riding through most of San Francisco with a shared lane, it was an immediate shock to the system when I suddenly reached the City of Burlingame where the "Sharrow" lanes ended and there was no bike lane. Suddenly I had cars trying to squeeze by on the narrow lanes. You could almost feel the difference in the attitudes of the drivers as they suddenly saw you not as a fellow user of a shared resource but as an interloper on their turf.
|Rumble strip separation.|
This is where the idea of political courage came to mind for me because when I think of my own neighborhood, I'm not sure how much public support there would be for designating the right lane on every four lane road as a shared lane. Courage is doing the right thing even if it isn't the popular thing.
We've had quite a few cyclist deaths over the last couple of years in Orange County and I'm not saying that throwing some paint on the streets would have prevented any of them or will prevent any in the future. But, it is a simple and relatively low-cost way of showing a commitment to change and a commitment to making the streets safer for all users.
The "Sharrow" painted on the street makes an important statement to drivers that cyclists do have a right to share the road. There is no question about where the cyclist belongs, no varying interpretations of the vehicle code and no "cyclists should be on the sidewalks."
|This would normally be a street I would avoid.|
I think that the most important thing we can do to improve safety for cyclists is to change the attitudes of both drivers and cyclists. Both parties need to know their place and responsibilities.
Cyclists need to stop being timid in their use of a shared resource. Take the lane and assert your right to the road. As drivers see more and more of us where we are supposed to be, they will be less inclined to attempt to intimidate us off of our streets.
Edited to add:
CVC 21202 -
Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or motor vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
I added the section of the CVC that is relevant to the discussion as with the upcoming implementation of the "Three-foot Rule," every lane is now too narrow for a vehicle and bicycle to travel side-by-side. Because of this, every road without a designated bike lane should now have the right lane painted with the sharrow symbol.