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‘Sharrows’ Help Roanoke Drivers, Cyclists Share The Road

Roanoke bicyclists and motorists will notice a new type of pavement marking called a “shared lane marking” or “sharrow” to help them safely navigate city streets.

According to Mark Jamison, manager of the city’s Transportation Division, drivers as well as cyclists are often confused over proper etiquette and traffic laws for navigating streets safely. “Sharrows indicate where a bicyclist should ride when the lane is too narrow for a conventional bike lane or for a car and a bike to travel side by side,” he says. “Additionally, they help to make motorists aware that a particular street is on a designated bike route and that the motorist should expect to see cyclists.”

Jamison says Transportation has completed installation of sharrows in seven downtown locations, along streets such as Church Avenue, Second Street, Gainsboro Road, and Williamson Road. Additional sharrow locations will likely be added in the coming months.

Sharrows have been used on an experimental basis in some U.S. cities, but were not approved for national use by the Federal Highway Administration until about a year ago. “In addition to safety and awareness benefits, these initial sharrows will help designate the downtown connection between the Mill Mountain and Lick Run Greenways,” says Jamison. “Ultimately we want to promote cycling as a healthy and safe alternative to motorized transportation.”

Tom Carr, Roanoke’s Director of Planning, Building and Development and staff to the City of Roanoke Bicycle Advisory Committee, says sharrows are a part of an overall effort by the city to promote bicycles for commuting as well as recreational use. In 2010, Roanoke became one of only four Virginia cities to be designated as Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists. This year, the committee will join other Virginia groups to increase awareness of the advantages of cycling and how to do so safely.

“Bicycling is a great way to get exercise, reduce your carbon footprint, and enjoy the beauty of the Roanoke Valley, but safety is key,” says Carr. “Sharrows will help us all share the road more effectively.”

For more information, contact Mark Jamison at 540-853-2676.

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