People who bike deserve better than a sharrow | Unpublished

Warning message

  • Last import of users from Drupal Production environment ran more than 7 days ago. Import users by accessing /admin/config/live-importer/drupal-run
  • Last import of nodes from Drupal Production environment ran more than 7 days ago. Import nodes by accessing /admin/config/live-importer/drupal-run

Unpublished Opinions

Bike Ottawa - Citizens for Safe Cycling's picture
Ottawa, Ontario
About the author

Bike Ottawa - Citizens for Safe Cycling is a non profit, 100% volunteer-run,  membership-based organisation, founded in May 1984. We incorporated a few years later.

  • We believe that cycling should be a fun, healthy, safe, comfortable and convenient mode of transportation.
  • We believe that more infrastructure yields more cyclists
  • We believe that more cyclists leads to a more livable and vibrant city
  • We believe that cycling is a normal low-risk activity that should be welcoming to people of all ages

Like it

People who bike deserve better than a sharrow

July 5, 2016

Originally published along with many more photo examples at

While some experienced and confident cyclists find sharrows help emphasize their right to use the road, sharrows do not generally improve the safety or comfort of the average person. They are not a suitable substitute for cycling infrastructure for people of all ages and abilities. Citizens for Safe Cycling therefore supports the use of sharrows only as a temporary measure, or for alternative purposes such as bike-route wayfinding. This position statement on sharrows and a full explanation of our rationale is now posted in our list of policies (link to position statement PDF).

It's easy to find examples of sharrows done poorly around Ottawa. By way of contrast, consider the case of the Bank street bridge over the canal, where everything has been done "corrrectly". This is a 40 km/h section of Bank street (indicated by road signage, though perhaps not by actual road design), and it's fairly low-traffic, with lots of unused road space to let drivers easily pass cyclists. Cyclists are encouraged to position themselves properly by taking the full lane. The super-sharrows, on a bright green background, are in good condition, and appear at frequent intervals. There are no parked cars to door passing cyclists. There's a yellow sign to advise that cyclists can use the lane. This is probably the very best deployment of sharrows in the entire city: everything has been done according to recommended practices for sharrows. And yet, the result is still an environment where people ride on the sidewalk in fear for their lives. Would you ride here with children?

If even the very best we can do with painting sharrows is still a failure for the vast majority of the people who would like to ride a bike, let's build better.