It’s National Bike-to-Work Day, touted as the safest day of the year to ride a bicycle. That’s a relief for many an unfortunate urban cyclist who’s known the trauma of getting “doored,” or riding in the street along a line of parallel-parked cars when suddenly a driver’s door swings open and, wham!
But cyclists who ride in the middle of the street to avoid injury also know the honks and glares shot by impatient drivers.
A new marking popping up on San Diego streets is intended to make a cyclist’s commute a little less stressful. It’s of a bicycle with two arrows pointing in the direction of traffic, painted right in the middle of traffic lanes.
It’s called a shared roadway marker, or “sharrow” for short, and in the last month it’s been popping up in neighborhoods across the city. The one pictured above is in City Heights.
The marking’s been tested in several cities nationwide in recent years, prompting the California Department of Transportation to approve it for use statewide. The City of San Diego is just installing the symbols now.
“The idea is to designate a path of travel for cyclists so they’re not in danger of being hit by a door,” said Stephan Vance, a planner for the San Diego Association of Governments. They’re meant to remind both drivers and bicyclists that cyclists can use the center of a traffic lane.
The markings are showing up on streets with on-street parking where there may be high bicycle traffic but not enough room for a bicycle lane, Vance said. They’re also helpful to guide cyclists away from particularly dangerous routes, he said.
The city’s transportation department has been identifying routes for the sharrows and submitting requests to the street division to install them.