This post was written by summer intern Michael O’Neill.
If you have driven on any of Melrose’s newly resurfaced roads lately, you have probably noticed some new markings. Sharrows—officially known as Shared Lane Markings—are arrows painted onto roadways that indicate that cyclists are allowed on the road just as much as motor vehicles are. This means that motorists must give bikes the same space, right of way, and general treatment they would for other cars. Cyclists must obey the same traffic laws that motorists do.
The increasing frequency of “sharrows” (a portmanteau of “share” and “arrow”) on Melrose roads is helping keep cyclists and motorists safe, and residents should be aware of exactly what they entail. They are not separate bike lanes; rather, they are a reminder that bikes and cars are sharing the lane equally.
The main goal of these sharrows is to increase safety for bike riders and automobile drivers alike. The Melrose Pedestrian & Bicycling Advisory Committee has been advocating for their use in Melrose, and now several of the newly repaved roads in Melrose feature sharrows. “I think the greatest benefit to the sharrows is how they alert and remind motorists that our streets and throughways are shared environments,” says committee member Carol Naczas. “As communities strive to improve and diversify our public spaces, it’s important to provide outreach and education.” Other safety benefits of sharrows, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, are reminding drivers and cyclists to maintain a safe distance from one another, encouraging safe passing by motorists, and reducing the number of bikes on sidewalks.
Sharrows are a simple, inexpensive way to clarify the rules of road and remind both motorists and bicyclists to be mindful of one another. Look for these pavement markings around Melrose, including on Franklin Street, Lebanon Street, Essex Street, and the Lynn Fells Parkway.