Have you ever misread traffic signs? Like “Down Slow” instead of “Slow Down”? What about the following signs?
This sign is used to explain that bikes and cars need to share the same lane. Lately, these signs were installed around Lake Tahoe. When I drove around the lake, space was tight as usual. Cars were parked on the shoulder, the road was narrow with bicycles and pedestrians on it, and the going was slow. Each time we passed one of these signs, I could not help but want to read it the wrong way: “Bike riders: you have to share the road with cars. Cars cannot move into the opposite lane due to the oncoming traffic, because there is a double yellow line, and because of the curvy road. So, bikes, you have to drive on the shoulder and make enough space for car drivers so they can stay within their lane! Bicycles: Share the road and get out of my lane!” I just wonder: how many other drivers read the sign the wrong way as well, completely missing the point of respecting the bike riders and giving them the space the law provides them?
Obviously, this sign is not working. It’s too easy to misinterpret.
“Bike Route” sign
Does anyone know what a “Bike Route” sign means? It means a preferred route for bikes and signals to cars to prepare to see bikes on the road. But isn’t this true for every road? Even if there isn’t a bike lane or sharrow markings on the road, cars need to expect and respect bikes on every road. This sign isn’t helping.
“Bikes May Use Full Lane”
This is the sign I like! No way to misread it. It makes it clear to everybody! Not every driver may like the sign, but it is hard to misunderstand and it states the law – bikes may legally use the full lane at any time to ensure they have sufficient space to ride safely on our roads. Bikes have the right to safe passage to avoid the “door zone” near parked cars and reduce the risk of unsafe passing by cars when there is not enough space for the car and bicycle in the same lane. The picture above has been taken in Dublin. See this article in PLOS ONE about these signs.
“Bikes on Roadway”
We are not the only ones who dislike the “Share the Road” signs and prefer alternatives. Oregon has decided to phase out these signs and to replace them with “Bikes on Roadway” signs. The main reason: too many drivers misread the signs, and it is too ambiguous.
BikeWalkCV has asked Alameda County Public Works Agency to install “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs in Castro Valley to better educate drivers on the law and to keep the common sense practice of keeping bicyclists and all residents safe in our community top of mind.
Thanks for keeping an eye out for people riding bicycles and giving them the space they need.