As of this past June, the city officially opened a brand new bike route system as indicated by fresh white painted lines and a couple rather peculiar looking symbols.
While the “bicycle” symbol shown below may be relatively self-explanatory,
another not-so common symbol, known as a “sharrow,” has shown up in various areas of the city.
In an effort to help motorists and bicyclists alike better understand the new routes and related markings, Merrill Police Chief Ken Neff would like to pass along a few Frequently Asked Questions regarding the routes and a few points of clarification.
FAQ: What is a sharrow and how is it marked?
A sharrow is a shared lane indicating the lane is to be shared by both motorists and bicyclists. A sharrow is marked by a symbol using two white chevrons over a white bicycle symbol. It is important to note, neither user has particular right of way when using the sharrow. It is also illegal for motorists to pass bicyclists while using the sharrow. Motorists may perform standard vehicle operation maneuvers such as turns and crossing, with respect to any bicyclists currently using the sharrow.
FAQ: Why are sharrows used?
Sharrows are used in areas where the roadway is not wide enough to accommodate a designated bicycle lane and associated side-by-side usage. Common areas where sharrows can be found in the city include Cottage Street, Mill Street, 800 Block of 1st Street, Wisconsin Street and in various areas of Main Street.
FAQ: How is a bike lane marked different than a sharrow?
While a sharrow uses both a bicycle symbol and two chevrons, a designated bicycle-only lane uses a simple white bicycle symbol with a long white arrow over the bicycle.
While a sharrow is used to indicate sharing the lane between motorists and bicyclists, a bicycle-only lane is to be strictly for bicycles. It is important to note, under no circumstances are vehicles to travel in the bike-only lane when bicycles are present. However, just as with the sharrow, motorists may perform standard vehicle operation maneuvers such as turns and crossing, with respect to any bicyclists currently using the sharrow.
FAQ: Are motorcycles or ATVs allowed to use the bike-only lane?
No. Bicycle only lanes are strictly meant for use by non-motorized bicycles only.
“Our key purpose in clarifying proper use of our new bike routes is to raise awareness for both motorists and bicyclists of the legitimacy of bicycle traffic and designated lanes,” Neff adds. “We want to encourage both bicyclists and motorists to follow sharrow routes and their intended purpose. We also want to inform motorists of bicyclists being expected to use designated lanes for their safety and emphasize sharing of the roadway with bicyclists, along bicycle routes. It is a common misconception of motorists having more of a right of sorts, to use the roadway than bicyclists and that’s just not the case.”
Anyone with additional questions regarding routes and respective markings are welcome to contact the Merrill Police Department at 715-536-8311.