article by Kurt Holzer of Bike Law
In every car versus bike collision, it is the same loser every time: the bicyclist.
In a well-meaning effort to reduce such collisions, a number of states have adopted a “Share the Road” campaign. Since 1997 the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (the ‘MUTCD”) has approved the use of the Share the Road sign in conjunction with the bicycle symbol. The MUTCD is the road signage “bible” used by road authorities across the country. The intention is all good but I hate that slogan.
I HATE THE SHARE THE ROAD SIGN
Why? Because it is so open to interpretation. Many motorists take it to mean bikes and cars can be side by side in the same lane or that bikes should share the road in the sense of getting the heck out of the way of the car. That is bikes should never “take the lane.”
The signage is basically intended to alert motorists that they should expect bicyclists on that road. It really implies that somehow motorists “own” the road or lane and have a choice to not share to other road users.
BICYCLES MAY USE FULL LANE
I think the new effort to get signs that read “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” or “3-feet to pass” signage is far better and more useful.
Bicycles May Use Full Lane SIgn
Delaware stopped adding new “Share the Road” signs in 2013 and they are being phased out in Oregon because they don’t work. A recent study affirming that the Share the Road Message does not work and Bicycles May Use the Full Lane signs increase safety. See Hess G, Peterson MN (2015) “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” Signage Communicates U.S. Roadway Rules and Increases Perception of Safety.
HOW TO SHARE THE ROAD FOR DRIVERS AND CYCLISTS
Given that Share the Road is part of the lexicon though, helping people understand how to do it safely is important. The best effort I have seen at teaching people HOW to share the road came from former pro cyclist Dave Zabriskie. He developed a program called Yield to Life and although it does not seem very active these days the basic concepts remain sound. The below steps are mostly from Yield to Life with some of our own adaptations.
10 WAYS BICYCLIST CAN SHARE THE ROAD WITH MOTORISTS
One last addition for Idaho and other states passing the Idaho Stop or Safety Stop law: STOP at red lights, YIELD at all stop signs. DON’T proceed unless its safe AND you have the right of way. (This is the Idaho stop law if you don’t have that law where you live you should stop at all stop signs.)
10 WAYS MOTORISTS CAN SHARE THE ROAD WITH CYCLISTS
There you have it. Some ideas on HOW to share the road.
What ideas do you have? We would love to hear them and include them in our guide.
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