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Some call sharrows a “bike in a house”

Image by Rick Geary

Heymatt:
I use a bicycle a lot to get around San Diego, often avoiding hills and apparently clueless car drivers. Now, I see sharrows on some roads. What are people supposed to do when we see them? Oh, and that green paint across lanes on Montezuma Road, what’s up with that?
— Jim, via email

Sharrows are showing up everywhere and nobody bothered to tell us all what to do about them! Tut tut and for shame, public information channels. At least it’s an easy answer. Sharrows (sometimes called “bike in a house” since the double arrow looks like a roof over the bike) indicate that there’s no bike lane and bikes should “take the lane” to ride safely. They have a legal right to do so, after all. The reason being that it’s maximally dangerous for cyclists to try and squish themselves to the extreme right-hand portion of a lane. Cars will pick you off from the left, doors will hit you, or cars pulling out into traffic will T-bone you because you were blocked from view. It’s safer to ride three feet out from the parked cars and be seen by the traffic behind you.

Motorists shouldn’t begrudge bikers in the lane, either. There’s almost always a clear lane to the left, in which people should be driving unless they’re making right-hand turns anyway, and it’s not like the bikes are really slowing traffic down by more than a few seconds.

As for the green paint, cities across America are experimenting with it to make bike lanes more visible. It’s showing up on some of San Diego’s more notoriously “dangerous” sections of road, like Montezuma and Kearny Villa Road. Weirdly, the shade of green is standardized nationwide.

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Heymatt:
I use a bicycle a lot to get around San Diego, often avoiding hills and apparently clueless car drivers. Now, I see sharrows on some roads. What are people supposed to do when we see them? Oh, and that green paint across lanes on Montezuma Road, what’s up with that?
— Jim, via email

Sharrows are showing up everywhere and nobody bothered to tell us all what to do about them! Tut tut and for shame, public information channels. At least it’s an easy answer. Sharrows (sometimes called “bike in a house” since the double arrow looks like a roof over the bike) indicate that there’s no bike lane and bikes should “take the lane” to ride safely. They have a legal right to do so, after all. The reason being that it’s maximally dangerous for cyclists to try and squish themselves to the extreme right-hand portion of a lane. Cars will pick you off from the left, doors will hit you, or cars pulling out into traffic will T-bone you because you were blocked from view. It’s safer to ride three feet out from the parked cars and be seen by the traffic behind you.

Motorists shouldn’t begrudge bikers in the lane, either. There’s almost always a clear lane to the left, in which people should be driving unless they’re making right-hand turns anyway, and it’s not like the bikes are really slowing traffic down by more than a few seconds.

As for the green paint, cities across America are experimenting with it to make bike lanes more visible. It’s showing up on some of San Diego’s more notoriously “dangerous” sections of road, like Montezuma and Kearny Villa Road. Weirdly, the shade of green is standardized nationwide.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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