Some progressive cities have begun using sharrows, shared road markings, to remind motorists that bicycles have a right to the road and that we may well be riding farther in the lane than they would expect. Unfortunately, cities that have used sharrows needed to pass special legislation to permit their DOT to use the signage, as they aren’t part of the manual uniform traffic control devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD lists all nationally accepted road signs and RIDOT could use any symbol listed.
Many cycling advocates have been holding their breath for sharrows to be included and the rumor mill has been churning that they will be included in the 2008 release of the MUTCD. The proposed changes to the 2003 version of the MUTCD is now available online. Section 9 appears to cover most bicycle related laws. While there is a new section (9B.06) that discusses the addition of a “Bicycles May Use Full Lane Sign”, I see no mention of sharrows in the document. I also looked through the proposed figures for the 2008 version of the MUTCD and saw no hint of sharrows in there either.
Did I just miss them? I sure hope so as they would be a huge boost to cycling advocacy in Rhode Island. Many of our roads are too narrow to safely allow cyclists and automobiles to coexist, sharrows would provide an often needed reminder to motorists that there could well be cyclists out on the road.