Contact Us  |  Membership  |  Donate  |  Volunteer  |  Merchandise  |  FAQ

Bike Index Indy            

News / 2011 / September / FAQ for Sharrows or Shared Roadway Markings
September 25, 2011
FAQ for Sharrows or Shared Roadway Markings
by   |   1 COMMENT

Q. I've seen these markings of a bike with two chevrons/arrows above it on the streets. What do they mean?

A. These are Shared Roadway Bicycle Markings which are intended to help bicyclists position themselves away from parked cars, to avoid being struck by suddenly opened car doors, and to alert other road users to expect bicyclists to occupy travel lanes. These markings will also be used in situations where it may not be obvious where bicyclists should be riding, such as at intersections with multiple turn lanes.

Q. But on some streets, bicyclists riding over this marking will take the entire lane. Aren't they supposed to move to the right?

A. Not always. Bicyclists are to stay to the right except to pass other bicyclists or vehicles, to prepare to make a left turn, or when necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right, including fixed or moving objects, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel side by side.. Moving to the left in the lane to avoid car doors, for instance, even if it means taking the entire lane, is permitted.

Q. Can't bicyclists just look into parked cars as they ride and see if someone is about to open the door?

A. Bicyclists, like all road users, need to constantly scan the entire roadway for safety. Checking every car for a driver is difficult to do while paying attention to the road. Also, it is often impossible to see drivers due to large parked vehicles blocking the view of other parked vehicles, tinted windows, headrests, etc. Motorists should check their side view mirror or look back prior to opening their door. It is the driver's responsibility should any collision occur.

Q. If I see these markings in a lane, is the lane only for bikes?

A. No. This marking is used for travel lanes that are shared by bicyclists and motorists. Shared lanes are different than bike lanes which are set aside for bicyclists and are marked by a solid white line.


Q. So, if I don't see these markings, then it's not a shared lane and bicyclists aren't supposed to be there?

A. No. Bicyclists can ride on any street in Indianapolis except for limited access freeways with signs explicitly prohibiting.

Q. Are these markings going to be on every street that does not have a bike lane?

A. No. These markings are used primarily on streets designated as part of the Indianapolis' bikeways networks. Additional sharrows may be considered on a case by case basis.

Q. I never used to see these markings. Why are they being used now?

A. Prior to 2005, there was no official marking to use on streets with shared lanes. Now we have a marking for areas on the road where traditional bike lanes are not applicable, or possible, due to roadway restrictions.

Q. Why are the sharrows on Shelby in the left lane, instead of the right?

A. The original plan called for traditional bike lanes continuously on Shelby St. along the curb. During a public meeting before the project, neighbors and business owners between Raymond and Troy expressed concern with eliminating the parking that would have been necessary to accommodate the bike lanes. As a compromise, the city decided to use sharrows in that area and to keep the 4 lanes of traffic (2 in each direction), which would allow parking at specified times of the day. So, instead of putting the sharrows in a lane that would serve as a parking lane during part of the day, the city decided to mark the middle most travel lane with the sharrows. This does not mean that the cyclist has to use this middle lane when there are not any cars parked in the curbside lane.

I travel north on Ilinois from 20th and have noticed sections of green pathways as wide as the usual bike lane and about 40-50 ft. long. It begins in the far right, bike/park lane and angles in to the next lane. Can you tell me if this is something bike related yet to come and if so what's up?
Clay September 27, 2011