They look like bike lanes, but they're not: What's a sharrow?

Posted at 4:21 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 18:27:27-04

They might look like bike lanes, but shared-lane markings called sharrows are meant to tell drivers and cyclists to share the road.

In the last month, the markings have started appearing on roads in Canton for the very first time, to the confusion of some drivers and bikers.

“Is it kind of like a suggestion?” said Canton cyclist Corey Hunt, looking at the fresh markings on 27th St. NW near the busy intersection with Cleveland Ave.

Cyclists said they’ve noticed cars swerving around the new markings, thinking that they should avoid them.

“I haven’t seen any bikes or anything so I wasn’t sure if it was for bikes only or if we’re allowed to drive on that road,” said Canton driver Dave Norris.

Canton City Engineer Dan Moeglin told News 5 that the symbols are meant to alert drivers of cyclists along road portions of the Pioneer Trail, which stretches through Weis Park, through parts of Malone University, eventually meeting West Branch Trail at 12th Street NW.

“We’re just telling the bicyclists to share the road,” Moeglin said. “We are raising awareness for motorized vehicles.”

Moeglin explained that the markings are new to Canton, but not to the state and he understands that there will be some growing pains.

Business owner Zac Adams, who owns Inkeepers Tattoo Parlor on Cleveland Avenue near one of the freshly painted markers, worried that the confusion could lead to accidents.

“It’s going to cause more confusion have people running on this side of the road or that side of the road. There should have just been a separate lane,” Adams said.

Moeglin said the symbols are used when the streets are not wide enough to accommodate separate bikes lanes and are usually on roads with low traffic volumes.

A 2015 University of Colorado study also led to questions about the effectiveness of sharrow markings. Researchers found that the sharrow markings did little reduce cyclist injuries compared to traditional bike lanes.

Moeglin said he hopes familiarity over time will ease concerns about the new markings.