Sharrows to become federal standard?

The U.S. National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices voted last week to recommend to the Federal Highway Administration the inclusion of sharrows in the next edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Sharrows are used to show motorists that cyclists may “take the lane” and it helps show cyclists good lane positioning, especially where lanes are too narrow to share safely. In San Francisco, which studied design and placement of sharrows in 2004, sharrows were shown to improve lane positioning of cyclists and improved passing distance by motorists. Sharrows also cut down on the number of sidewalk cyclists and wrong-way cyclists.

Wide outside lanes and bike lane markings are preferred by many cyclists, but widening lanes is often difficult because they take away parking or sidewak space, especially in built-up urban areas where parking is already scarce.

The MUTCD is a book published by the Federal Highway Administration and used by state transportation departments for street signs and lane markings. After public hearings, the next edition of the MUTCD is expected to come out around 2010. After that, it can take state transportation departments a few years to adopt the new manual.

Read more at Bike Commute tips blog.

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