Frequently Asked Questions - Biking and Walking
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These are "Shared Lane Markings", aka "Sharrows", which are intended to guide bicyclists to the best place to ride on the road, avoid car doors, and remind drivers to share the road with bicyclists.
Although it is the motorist's responsibility to check before opening their door, riding too close to parked cars (in the "door zone") is still a common mistake that can lead to serious injury.
According to Virginia State Code Section 46.2-905, bicyclists are to stay to the right when riding less than the normal speed of traffic except to pass other bicyclists or vehicles, to prepare to make a left turn, when necessary to avoid conditions (including fixed or moving objects, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel side by side) that make it unsafe to continue along the right.
Moving to the left in the lane to avoid car doors, for instance, even if it means taking the entire lane, is permitted by the State Code.
This marking is used for shared lanes; lanes that are used by bicyclists and motorists.
Shared lanes are different than bike lanes which are set aside for bicyclists and are marked by a solid white line and a different symbol.
No, bicyclists can ride on any roadway, except for those designed as limited access highways with signs explicitly prohibiting bicyclists (such as Interstate 81).
Cyclists are allowed on every street regardless of whether there is a marking or sign for them unless stated otherwise.
In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration approved the use of Shared Roadway Markings ("Sharrows") in their Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Many cities around the country are using sharrows on streets that are both popular with bicyclists but may be too narrow for conventional bike lanes.
The overall goals are: to improve the position of bicyclists on roads without bike lanes, reduce bicycling on sidewalks, assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist's impacting the open door of a parked vehicle, encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists, and reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.
The MUTCD states that "if used, the shared lane markings should be placed immediately after an intersection and spaced at intervals not greater than 250 feet thereafter."
More information: City of Harrisonburg Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan and Program.