Can you tell me more about shared lane markings, aka "sharrows"?

Our community is interested in learning more about shared lane markings, aka "sharrows", as a tool to help motorists and bicyclists share the road safely. What can you tell us about them?

Shared Lane Markings (or Sharrows – short for shared-use arrows) are pavement markings designed to remind motorists and bicyclists where bicyclists should generally ride when sharing a standard travel lane with other traffic. The City of Ithaca, NY was among those who experimented with the use of sharrows prior to their adoption in the National MUTCD. Sharrows were officially incorporated into Part 9 of the National MUTCD in December 2009.

For the initial installation, the cost per marking will depend on many factors, including how many markings are installed and what type of paint or stencil is used. There will also be costs for the design, layout, educating the public about sharrows, and evaluation of the markings after they are installed. Finally, there will be the recurring annual costs to maintain the markings.

In 2009, the City of Ithaca, NY installed 78 sharrows at a cost of about $250 each for contractors labor and materials. This amount did not include the substantial time devoted by City staff. The City estimates it would costs about $100 per year for each sharrow to maintain and repaint as needed. Again, this would not include City engineering staff time.

Cyclist using sharrow lane

Because of the cost and complexity of maintaining pavement markings, carefully determine where you think the sharrows will be most beneficial and use only as many as you need to do the job. There are four key situations where sharrows could be most beneficial:

  1. As a wayfinding tool to help guide bicyclists through a confusing route
  2. If a street has an uphill-only bike lane, then sharrow markings can be used in the downhill direction so that a painted bike facility can be on both sides of the street
  3. At very specific locations where motorists and/or bicyclists need to be reminded where bicyclists should be positioned on the roadway
  4. Where bike lanes would otherwise be desired, but are currently infeasible

Resources

Shared Lane Markings (“Sharrows”) FAQs

Part 9 of National MUTCD

Thank you to Kent Johnson, City of Ithaca, NY who helped us with this answer)

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