(aka “Sharrows”)

Shared Roadway Bicycle Marking. n. Also known as a “Sharrow,” shortened from “shared use arrow,” a design painted on a bicycle route or a shared roadway to assist bicyclists with positioning in the roadway and to alert motorists of the location a bicyclist may occupy in the traveled way.

Q. I’ve seen these new markings of a bike with two chevrons/arrows above it on 2nd Street. What do they mean?

A. These are “Shared Roadway Markings” which are intended to show where cyclists should ride on the street to avoid being hit by a suddenly opened car door or a car backing out of an angled parking place. Although it is the motorist’s responsibility to check before  opening their door or backing up, it’s safter to ride a bike in the lane where cars go on narrower streets. The hazards associated with parked cars pose greater risk of injury than riding in front of motorists who can clearly see what’s in front of them.

Q. Cyclists riding over this marking will take the entire lane. Aren’t they supposed to move to the right?

A. Not always. According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21202, cyclists are to stay to the right except to pass other cyclists or vehicles, to prepare to make a left turn, or when necessary to avoid conditions (including fixed or moving objects, surface hazards, or lanes too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel side by side) that make it unsafe to continue along the right. Moving to the left in the lane to avoid car doors and  backing cars, even if it means taking the entire lane, is permitted by the CVC.


Q. Can’t cyclists just look into parked cars as they ride and see if someone is about to open the door or back up?

A. Checking every parked car for a driver can be very difficult. Also, it is often impossible to see drivers when large parked vehicles block the view.

Q. If I see these markings in a lane, is the lane only for bikes?

A. No. This marking is used for shared lanes; lanes that are used by bicyclists and motorists. Shared lanes are different than bike lanes which are set aside for bicyclists and are marked by a solid white line and a different symbol.

Q. So, if I don’t see these markings, then it’s not a shared lane and bicyclists aren’t supposed to be there?

A. No, cyclists can ride on any street throughout California except for limited access freeways with signs explicitly prohibiting cyclists. Cyclists are allowed on every street regardless of whether there is a marking or sign for them, unless stated otherwise.

Q. Are these markings going to be on every street that does not have a bike lane?

A. No, these markings will be added on selected streets in the future where they will be most helpful to indicate that bikes would be safer toward the center of the lane, including streets where there is not room for a bike lane and cars are travelling at slow speeds.

Q. I’ve never seen these markings before. Why are they being used now?

A. These markings have been used experimentally in several cities in California and other states.  Recently, they have been approved as a standard pavement marking in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and will be in more widespread use to:
·  Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane;
·  Alert motorists of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way.

For Bicyclists

Q. Where exactly should I ride on streets with sharrows?

A. You should position your bicycle directly over the sharrow if possible. Keep in mind that the sharrow is a guide. You should still actively scan the roadway ahead for cars emerging from parking and other hazards.

Q. Must I stay directly on the sharrow no matter what?

A. No! Just like on any street you may have to move further to the left toward the centerline to avoid hazards or automobiles pulling or backing out. The sharrow is a guide.


Still have questions? Contact the City of Davis!

Web: or

Visit the City of Davis Bicycle and Pedestrian Program on Facebook at


Phone: 530-757-5669


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