You may notice new markings on some Arlington streets, such the one on Walter Reed Drive. These markings – along with new “Bikes may use full lane” signs – remind drivers that bicyclists have the right to ride on all traffic lanes.
The pavement markings, called “shared-lane markings” or “sharrows,” 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 they 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.
Sharrows were federally approved and adopted after research by the U.S. Department of Transportation revealed that sharrows significantly increase the passing space between motor vehicles and bicyclists and reduce improper bicycle behavior, such as riding on the sidewalk or riding the wrong way on a street. Sharrows are expected to be officially adopted in Virginia by the end of 2010. Arlington however is following the lead of neighboring Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, and other bike-friendly cities such as Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and New York. The County is placing sharrows in locations that are popular with bicyclists and where streets form part of the bicycle network promoted on the County’s official bike map. The County’s Traffic Engineering & Operations Bureau evaluates the need for sharrows as part of pavement marking review, and this year is installing a number of new sharrows in conjunction with paving projects. The newest sharrows can be found on Walter Reed Drive between South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike.
The addition of sharrows is part of Arlington’s ongoing commitment to make the County a bike-friendly community where cycling is a safe, convenient and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation. Visit http://www.bikearlington.com/ to learn more about Arlington County’s 2010 Bicycle Initiative.
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