Hickory Ridge Road was recently repaved and restriped. There are some new markings on the road to enhance bicycle travel along the road. Below are some questions and answers that have come up regarding the markings.
What are Bike Lanes?
Bike lanes are striped areas of a street that are reserved for the exclusive use of bicycles. These allow bicyclists to travel safely along busy roads without occupying a vehicle lane. In addition, bike lanes increase the safety for bicyclists and drivers by providing separate, designated areas for people on bikes and people on cars.
What are Sharrows?
“Sharrows” or “Shared-lane markings” are intended to help motorists and cyclists safely share and navigate streets. The sharrows show cyclists where to be in the road (aligned with the middle of the chevron markings), and along with “Bikes may use full lane” signs, remind drivers that the presence of bicyclists is to be expected.Sharrows are different from bike lanes, which are reserved exclusively for bicyclists and are marked by a solid white line and a bicycle symbol.
If I see these markings in a lane, is the lane only for bikes?
No. These markings can be used in any lane that is used by bicyclists and motorists. Bicycle lanes, which are set aside for bicyclists, are marked by a solid white line and a different symbol.
So, if I don’t see these markings, then it’s not a shared lane and bicyclists aren’t supposed to be there?
No, cyclists can ride on any street in Howard County except limited access freeways with signs explicitly prohibiting cyclists (such as Interstate 95). Sharrows are intended to reinforce that cyclists are allowed to use the traffic lanes, not to define a special condition.
I’ve never seen these markings before. Why are they being used now?
These markings were approved by the Federal Highway Administration for use nationwide. They were recommended in the Howard County Bicycle Master Plan for some locations.
How do I pass a cyclist that is riding in front of me following the sharrows in the center of the lane?
The same as always – wait for a safe opportunity to pass and leave at least 3 feet to the cyclist when passing. The delay is never very long and a safe chance to pass will soon present itself. Please be patient on the roads and courteous to all road users.