Shared Use Symbols

Shared Lane Symbol

Bicycle symbol “suitable for roadway lanes” from the Australian MUTCD.

The Shared Lane Symbol used in Brisbane, Australia is derived from the Shared Lane Arrow first used in Denver, Colorado, USA. The 1.1 – 1.2 m bike symbol was previously defined in the Australian Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (excerpt at right). Brisbane uses yellow symbols because they are advisory (warning), and to distinguish them from the otherwise identical white regulatory symbols used on bike lanes.

The symbol can be placed in different ways: centered on a white edge line, on the side of a wide lane, or in the center of a narrow lane (see photos below). While the bike symbol should be 1.2 m or more, the symbols are often a bit narrower in practice.

The symbol can be used where bike lanes are not preferred for any number of reasons including: few cyclists, cost, or the additional width for bike lanes would require either the loss of on-street parking or road widening. Morever, use of the Shared Lane Symbol avoids some of the problems that occur with bike lanes, including: a legal or social requirement for cyclists to remain in the bike lane regardless of traffic or road conditions; compromises in design and execution that leave bike lanes within the “door zone,” and turning conflicts at intersections. See also examples of problems with bike lane markings.

The Shared Lane Arrow

The Shared Lane Arrow consists of a bicyclist symbol, similar to the design used for bike lanes, surrounded by the outline of an arrow. The arrow shows the approximate location of bicyclist travel without limiting bicyclists to a specific part of the road. It is designed to remind bicyclists of the correct direction of travel and to promote awareness of the right of bicyclists to use the roads. It was first used in Denver, Colorado, USA and has also been used in San Francisco, California (see examples below).

The (U.S.) Bicycle Technical Committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) is working on developing a recommended design and proposed language for a shared lane arrow for inclusion in the U.S. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

The photograph at right shows Shared Lane Arrows in place on a Denver street. The arrows should be placed outside the “door zone” so that bicyclists are encouraged to travel a door’s width away from on-street parking.
A green Shared Lane Arrow in San Francisco Note the placement outside the “door zone.” There is ample room for motorists to pass bicyclists in the same lane. San Francisco is studying of the effectiveness of these pavement markings.

Shared Lane Symbol Placement

Shared Lane Symbols can be placed on the edge line, on the side of a shared lane, or in the center of a narrow lane. The symbol should be placed so that bicyclists are encouraged to stay away from the “door zone” (example).

Edge Line: The shared lane symbol can be centered on the edge line separating the shoulder from the travel lane. In this example in Brisbane, there is no on-street parking.
Edge Line: This example, also from Brisbane, shows the symbol centered on the edge line where there is on-street parking.
Side of Shared Lane: This example (Adelaide Street in Brisbane) shows the symbol on the left edge of a shared lane. A bus stop is on the left.
Side of Shared Lane: This example from Amsterdam, Netherlands shows the symbol on the right edge of a shared lane.
Center of a Narrow Lane: This example from Brisbane shows the Bicycle Symbol placed in the center of a narrow lane, both because the lane is too narrow to share and also because cyclists continuing straight shout not be on the side of the lane. Traffic signal loop detectors can be seen directly underneath the bicycle symbol.
Center of a Narrow Lane: This example from the UK shows a (crude) bicycle symbol and route number combined in a pavement marking on a narrow roadway (Camberwell Grove, inner southeast London).
Away from the Door Zone: A cyclist who rides on the lane line will just about clear most suddenly opening doors. However, riding just inside the travel lane will more reliably give clearance from the widest doors (or the most poorly parked vehicles). Unlike a bike lane, the shared lane symbol does not discourage bicyclists from using as much of the travel lane necessary for safety (Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA). Photo: Bryce Nesbitt


One Response to “Shared Use Symbols

  • The pics are informative but could be more so if there were bikes in the pictures to give a clearer example of how to position the bike in relationship to the respective signs. Also with the different marking motorist need to be educated too for the whole system to reach its greatest potential.

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