Roadway Bicycle Markings (or "Sharrows") are popping up around Town along designated bicycle routes. Sharrows assist bicyclists with positioning on a shared roadway and alert motorists of the location that a cyclist may occupy within the traveled way.
Sharrows do not represent a designated traffic lane for bicyclists - they serve as a lateral guide for bicyclists and an alert for motorists. A bicycle lane is a designated traffic lane for bicyclists and is represented by a solid white line, typically breaking into a dotted line ending before it reaches a corner.
The California Vehicle Code provides Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Motorists to assist bicycle riders and motorists alike in managing the rules of the road. Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights - and the same responsibilities - as motorists.They are both subject to the same rules and regulations. The California law requiring motorists to leave 3 feet from a bicyclist as they pass applies on shared roadways. The law applies to any place a vehicle passes a bicyclist - regardless of whether there is an identified bicycle route, lane, or not. If there is not enough room for a driver to give three feet of space, the must slow down before safely passing. Bicyclists must obey traffic signs and signals - just like any other vehicle.
In 2014, the City Council confirmed the priorities and accepted the Town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The Town of Atherton has developed a Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan. The primary purposes of the Plan are to:
• Provide a comprehensive plan for bicycle/ pedestrian improvements throughout the Town;
• Provide connectivity with adjacent agencies;
• Improve bicycle and pedestrian safety;
• Become more strategic and successful competing for bicycle/pedestrian grant funding; and
• Identify barriers and solutions for residents to safely access bicycle and pedestrian destinations within the Town of Atherton and to other regional destinations.
Phase I Implementation involved the installation of Class III Bicycle Routes - identified routes to connect cyclists moving through Town North/South and West/East. There are sharrows on the pavement and associated signage. The routes direct cyclists N/S along Fair Oaks Avenue, Atherton Avenue, Watkins Avenue, Park Lane, and Camino Al Lago. The routes also direct cyclists W/E along Elena Avenue, Faxon Road, Barry Lane, Selby Lane, Dinkelspiel Station Lane, Austin Avenue, and Emile Avenue.
The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) controls how and where sharrows may be placed and are based on a number of factors such as road width, curb presence, parking, etc. In some areas, you may see a sign that says "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" - this is because under the California Vehicle Code, the sign is required along routes where there are no designated bicycle lanes or shoulders that are usable by bicyclists and where travel lanes are too narrow for bicyclists and motor vehicles to operate side by side.
As mentioned above, sharrows are used to assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side and alerts motorists of the lateral location of bicyclists likely occupying portions of the traveled way. On Atherton streets, the MUTCD requires that the center of the sharrow be at least 4 feet from the edge of pavement where there is no curb. The bicyclist should ride to the right of the center of the sharrow.
The Town is also moving forward with analysis for Class I and II lanes along Selby Lane, Watkins, Atherton Avenue, and Valparaiso. For more information on the Town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan visit the Town's website.