Monday, March 16, 2009

Share The Road and traffic safety

Eric at Bike Denver writes about a Share the Road education campaign in Portland, Oregon. Traffic violators can have their tickets dismissed by taking a traffic safety class, same as many other locations. Something unique about Portland's class, though, is the focus on safety for pedestrians, cyclists and children.

This and other "Share the Road" programs that Eric writes about work to address my biggest complaint about the message, which is that it's frequently misunderstood to mean "Get out of the way." The traffic safety education is good, but I still believe signs like "Bikes Allowed Full Use of Lane" are better.

Bikes May Use Full Lane

A few cities in California use these signs in lieu of "Share the Road" signs. In Santa Cruz, local cycling advocates rejected "Share The Road" signs as ineffective, demanding and getting signs that show cyclists using the entire lane in spite local police department protests.

Do you believe "Share the Road" is effective? Does anybody outside of California demand alternative signage?

See also:


  1. The first time I saw a photo of one of these signs (I think it was here), I have to admit I got a little teary.

    Here in DC, there are a few "Share the road" signs, and they are worse than useless.

    The drivers that I've spoken to(sometimes civilly, sometimes not) at red lights or stuck in traffic simply don't know that I have a right to the lane. The argument goes:
    "You know, I have as much right to this lane as you do."
    "No you don't. Get off the road."
    "Actually, DC law says..."
    "No it doesn't, get out of my way"

    There will always be jerks in cars, but it would be nice to have a sign to point to show them what the law is.

  2. BMUFL is better in delivering a message that drivers don't seem to get with STR. Adding "It's the Law" with BMUFL may also help.

  3. STR is worse than inadequate. Shoot, in my state we have signs and even license plates with a seven time Tour winner on them, but I still had a numbnuts constable try to bully me off the road in his squad car.

  4. I guess it's hard for me to imagine motorists are clueless enough to misunderstand the meaning of "Share the Road". Do some motorists really think it means bicyclists need to get out of the way of cars? If so, then the "Bikes May Use Full Lane" alternative is definitely better.

  5. How about the signs for road construction workers reworded for cyclists?
    "Injure/kill a cyclist $7500 + 15 Years"

  6. Thanks for linking my article! I feel all famous now.

    I too like the idea of signage like the one in your article. Too often people just do not understand that there are many cases in which it is legal and safer for a cyclist to control an entire lane of traffic. Signs would be great.

    However, I can attest to the fact that oftentimes signs of the share the road sort are ignored by motorists. I can't tell you how many times I was shouted at while on a marked bike route on a particular road in my home state.

    Alas, I still believe that motorist education can go a long way whether it is the Portland style program or simply signage.

  7. Colin,

    I have had similar encounters in the past. One such incident occurred like this:

    A friend and I rode two abreast in a lane that was too narrow to share and had a speed limit of 20mph. This was a road with two lanes in each direction

    A man passed on the left and gave us a beep of the horn and proceeded to berate (maybe too strong of a word) me for not sharing the road.

    I recognized him as a local talk radio host and publisher of the town's local magazine and called him by name.

    I politely told him that I had the right to do what I was doing and that I would write him an email about it.

    Subsequently, I was invited to be a guest on his radio show to discuss the concept of taking the lane.

    He welcomed the comments I made with open arms and became one of the biggest advocates for cyclists taking the lane.

    It helped that 1) I was a LAB Cycling Instructor and that 2) I worked for the local active transportation alliance. So I had some credibility.

    I felt like going on his show did more for the community that anything else I had done to that point. Not be cause I imparted so much knowledge on the public, but rather, this well-known guy was spouting vehicular cycling all over the air waves every chance he got.

    I have had many other conflicts with motorists that didn't turn out that cheerful though. Just keep an open mind when dealing with the "cagers."