There is a major bicycle / motorist education problem in this country, a problem we need to address soon as more and more cities are waking up to the “Bike-is-Transportation” reality. Part of the problem is the bike way-finding road sign network. At current we’re basically asking motorists to be nice with no clear action necessary for either party.
Driving by a Share the Road sign you might think, “Okay, I’ll watch out for cyclists.” But what does that actually mean? And shouldn’t we use more direct language like, “Shared Bike Lane Ahead” or “Bikes May Use Full Lane”?
When you’re driving on the highway and come across a Watch for Deer sign, does it change your driving habits really, for long? Or do you just think, “Okay, I’ll watch out for deer.” I believe it’s the same way for bikes. Share the Road signs are like Watch for Deer signs for bikes. And as a result they’re mostly ignored. In part due to their vague meaning but more accurately due to their vague requirement for action. There’s no real action necessary for either party with these signs.
The issue is bigger than just Share the Road signs. The issue here is really “How to treat bicycles like traffic?” Any bike advocate will tell you, “For 50 years now we’ve been designing the roads for cars!” Well that’s changing, and we need a new way-finding system to go along with that change. Most drivers don’t understand what Share the Road means. Hell, most people don’t like sharing in the first place! But we still need a real signage system with clear requirements for action. Not friendly suggestions, but signs that say, “These are the rules, here’s what to do.”
Some suggestions better than “Share the Road”
- Give Three Feet to Pass
- Bikes May Use Full Lane
- Shared Bike Lane Ahead
- Begin Shared Bike Lane (Would love to see this in place of “Bike Lane Ends”)
- Cyclists Keep Off Sidewalks
- Yield to Cyclists
- Bicycle Route Ahead, Use Left Lane to Pass
- Cyclists Right Lane Only
- Pass Cyclists In Left Lane Only
- Narrow Crossing, Do Not Overtake Cyclists
What are your experiences with Share the Road signs? Do they work? Have some other suggestions? Tweet hashtag #ShareTheRoad to keep the conversation going.