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How about something like "Watch for bicycles"? I think there needs to be a move towards making sure drivers know that bicycles belong on the road by default unless otherwise stated, and that these signs are only there as a reminder. Sort of like the "Warning: heavy truck traffic" signs on some interstates; it's clear the signs do not confer any additional rights that truck drivers didn't have already.

I agree, the problem with "Share the Road" is that it carries the same cognitive content as "Stop Being An Asshole"

The only reason why “Share the Road” might need to be replaced is because in Mo.Co. is there are segments of all groups who refuse to do just that, share. “Share the Road” implies that all users share with each other but in Mo.Co. some have perverted the mean to “Share the Road” to meaning cyclists should yield to cars.

At the same time users groups blame each other for breaking the rules of the road/trail when in reality all groups “share” in not following the rules. To solve this problem we all as a community need to share in the solution and have the rules enforced on all users groups not just the user group which people currently find expectable to bully and attempt to exclude.

If we don’t “share” then we are “forcing”, and the question is who will be forced out? Unless a person is selfish then they should not want any user group to be forced, limited or banned from using public amenities such as trails and roads.

What needs to be in forced in Mo.Co. is sharing.

I bet only 1 in 10 drivers really knows what share the road means. I've had many people tell me I need to move out of the way and share the road, when really the signs mean that I'm legally allowed to ride in the lane when the shoulder isn't safe (nearly always in urban areas), and that drivers need to share the lane behind me (not "sharing" by grazing me trying to fit in a 12ft lane).

"Watch for bicycles" isn't all that great either. That uses a yellow diamond sign which is only otherwise used for road hazards. It gives the wrong message if you are saying that a cyclist is a hazardous condition to be avoided.

"Bicycles/Cyclists may use full lane" is a bit better, but is just saying laws that exist everywhere, so it's kind of a weird sign. It's more of an educational thing though, and at least it's not inferring a negative concept like the other signs.

Are we walking about the idea or the sign? I'll comment on the sign.

In Maryland the main problem is that road agencies (and road users) have used the sign for more than it was ever intended. It is just a warning sign, like children or deer crossing. It never was intended to be a command.

But now that we know that it is misconstrued and that people have divergent interpretations, it is clearly a defective traffic control device. Yet SHA continues to view it as a device managing eliminating conflict points.

The only conflict it manages is between citizens and the highway departments. "Share the road" lets highway departments tell drivers and cyclists what each want to hear.

R4-11 signs would cause drivers to redirect their rage from the cyclist in front of them to the government that passed the law or erected the sigh.

And signs that told cyclists the road agency's actual policy on a given road would antagonize alot of us just as much (so much so that MUTCD will probably never approve it.

Jim T, I agree that the Share the Road sign is a wishy-washy message that offends neither drivers nor cyclists. But I don't believe it was initially posted by DOTs as an alert to drivers that bikes may be present. Advocates sometimes ask for it as for that purpose, because it does put bikes in people's heads. But maybe you know more than I do about SHA/MDOT's original thinking (nothing surprises me any more).

How about "Hey, you! Yeah, you in the car! I'm talking to *you*! The guy in the *car*! No, NOT the guy on the bike! You driving the car! Share the Road!!!"

@Jack. MUTCD says:

Section 2C.51 SHARE THE ROAD Plaque (W16-1)

In situations where there is a need to warn drivers to watch for other slower forms of transportation traveling along the highway, such as bicycles, golf carts, horse-drawn vehicles, or farm machinery, a SHARE THE ROAD (W16-1) plaque (see Figure 2C-11) may be used.


SHARE THE ROAD may be mounted below Vehicular Traffic signs to provide advance notice to road users of unexpected entries.

Jim T, I stand corrected. Ha, like I said, nothing surprises me!

The conference referenced in the article was great. It was hosted by the Montgomery County Civic Federation (not Montgomery College as reported) so I think it helped increase our stature in the county. Speakers included bike advocates, county and state staff with bike involvement, the park police chief, and the Planning Board chair.

I don't think signage will make a bit of difference as long as non-enforcement is the default.

My biggest shit-my-pants moments on the roads are things drivers do that are totally illegal and obviously a danger to others - the three-point u-turns across double yellow lines on narrow roads, running red lights, right-on-red without a full stop to "beat" cross traffic, and so on and on...

Point of use signage informing all road users that bicyclists may use the full lane won't change anyone's opinion that those bicycles are somehow taking something away from legitimate road users. They're simply wrong, but facts aren't the issue.

Meanwhile, the attempt a few years ago to increase speeding fines in VA to truly punitive levels was shot down in record time, even though it would only apply to people for whom the speed limit signs (and well-known facts) aren't sufficient.

"Share the road" is a simple concept. Kids in kindergarten understand every one of those words and can construct the correct meaning of the whole phrase. I'm skeptical that adult drivers are honestly unaware of what it truly means - and I'm quite certain they're acting like a bunch of self-serving bastards when they claim to think it means bikes must make way for motor vehicles.

Bike lanes are marked with a magic paint that's supposed to protect the route but usually only manages to anger non-bikers. Signs about most road laws - including "Share the road" or "Bicyclists may use full lane" are made of the same stuff. Until we figure out how to make all road users understand the social compact they're agreeing to when they take to the roads, signs are primarily decorations.

Reporter Kate Ryan is a bicyclist who attended the conference on her own time and sought to put the story in the news.

@DaveS: I disagree for two reasons.

First, different people think differently. People on MoBike have had encounters with drivers citing the sign as meaning side by side sharing--and some signs even promote that assumption . (That sign is not in the US MUTCD but it still makes the rounds.) While some people surely know better as you say, it seems likely that others get the wrong message. Of course fixing the signs will not help with people who already know what they mean--but they should help with those who do not.

Second, cyclists were required to ride as far to the right as practicable in Maryland from around 1920 until around 2005. And there was not 3' buffer until 2010. Even today, drivers are not taught about the right to take the lane. So it seems very likely that the vast majority of drivers think that cyclists are required to keep right.

@Jim T:

I'd never really thought about that linked sign in this context before. That driver's giving the cyclist, what, a 12" buffer? Share the Road, indeed!

This feels too much like when Black became African American and then went back to Black. Yes, you can find a lot of meaning in a word or a name, but these issues ultimately arent the most important issues out there.

Stop picking on the minutiae. Every minute spent worrying about "share the road" signs is a minute not spent doing something important, like getting more cycle tracks or trail Maintenance. Share the road is close enough to ignore any imperfections it may have and move on to something that counts.

@oboe: In your mind. But the driver thinks that the cyclist only gave her 12 inches. "Hey, you have at least another 12 inches--and you don't really need to be on the pavement anyway."

By the way, that sign showed up on Ray Lahood's blog about AAA bike safety month, and DOT got complaints for the very reason you cite.

@Paul: The roads (and probably the neighborhoods) where these share the road signs appear are never going to have cycle tracks. And there is almost never a trail going the same way either. Your analogy would be more apt were you to equate the discussion to whether the top of the light should be red or green in a particular town.

signs should say:


let me second the "as long as non-enforcement is the default."

viz: kwame brown came up to me and my wife on bike to work day...we dont know him...he shook our hand and asked what we could do for bikes b/c he's all about helping bikes...so he says...we said that enforcing the laws for car travel are our first concern, especially speeding, talking on the cell phone, and following other cars too closely.

the look on his face was all too familiar, and his lack of making a comment about our comment was telling: he has black- boxed bicycling, as if the other factors involved, like car-road conditions, are not relevant.

he cant think outside the bicycle, narrowly conceived.

as such, were doomed...

@Jim Titus: It doesn't really matter if it's cycle tracks or handing out bells, surely their must be some cycling issue we could be working on that's more important than splitting hairs over the meaning of "share the road".

The main purpose of the signs is to draw attention to the fact that cyclists are on the road. They do that very well. The signs, while not perfect, are widely distribute and easily recognized. It's a net win for cyclists that there are so many of theses out there. Mission accomplished. It's time now to work on other missions rather than focus on dismantling something that's mostly a huge success.

Let me put it another way. Let's say you find perfect verbiage and start making new signs. All of a sudden, you have to retrain all of the drivers who understand the current "share the road" signs in addition to trying to reach the people who don't "get it". It's a net loss in the short term. Why not use that same energy on something that could be a gain?

1) Cyclists May Use Full Lane is a better sign any probably all we can get on narrow country roads. At least it's educational.

2) Only a tiny, tiny minority of drivers ever bother to read road signs.

3) +1 satan. The best thing we could possibly ever get (most unlikely) is effective traffic enforcement.

We have the technology present today to blanket the city with camera/sensors that would completely eradicate speeding and red-light running. But some people think it's there god-given right to sling thousands of pounds of deadly steel and glass wherever they like.

@Paul: Please clarify which roads you are working on and with whom--I may well agree with you in those cases that you are working on.

As for a subset of Maryland roads that I am working on, I see very significant difference in meaning between R4-11 and "Share the Road" but no difference in cost (either direct or lost parking spaces). It's the difference between a sign that clearly adds to confusion and one whose meaning is clear.

@JeffB. If tiny, tiny means 1% I disagree. I am not sure whether oer or under 50%, but children and passengers also read these signs so they can educate. Watch the backlash that will occur once the signs are placed in "bike-friendly" Maryland.


Perhaps I should have said a tiny, tiny minority of drivers absolutely obey> all traffic signs.

I'd be willing to bet there is not a motorist trip ever undertaken that doesn't violate at least one (and probably many more) traffic laws.

We have the technology present today to blanket the city with camera/sensors that would completely eradicate speeding and red-light running. But some people think it's there god-given right to sling thousands of pounds of deadly steel and glass wherever they like.

But remember, that mentality in no way reveals any arrogance, entitlement, or "jerkiness". Why, to even suggest such a thing is the height of arrogance!

@Jim T: I'm just a regular cyclist who's been educating myself on cycling issues. That's my perspective. As a cyclist, when I see "Share The Road" signs, I'm grateful that motorists are getting a reminder that we're there. This is important to me because,like most cyclists, I also drive, and though it pains me to admit it, I sometimes forget to keep a lookout for cyclists. When I see a STR sign, it's a visible reminder that I should be on the lookout and it helps me focus my attention.

Another kind of sign may be just as effective, but I'd be very surprised if it would be a large improvement in the long term, while almost certainly causing confusion in the short term. Share the Road might not be a great sign, but it is a good one. This is one of those cases where supporting the good is likely to get you much farther than tearing it down in hopes of finding the great.

The only conflict it manages is between citizens and the highway departments. "Share the road" lets highway departments tell drivers and cyclists what each want to hear.

Exactly! STR signs are put up when an agency wants to show that it is pro-cycling -- as long as motorists are never, ever inconvenienced.

Re: Stop picking on the minutiae.

Paul, I have talked to a lot of "old time" cyclists who grew up in this area. And the roads 40-50 years ago were mostly like the ones we have now and cycling flourished and there was no driver attitude like we experience today.

As much as bicycling facilities are nice, they cost money to redo every road and some roads it is just impossible.

So engineering alone has it's limitations which leaves biking roads like Macarthur Blvd total subjected to drivers attitude.

Time needs to be spent on all five E's

And this is from the League of American Bicyclists.

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