Monday, February 01, 2016

Share the Road.... or not?

I'm not sure if this is mentioned elsewhere, but when I first started this blog, I was basically an angry bike commuter. I then morphed into a "puttering away at it" cycling activist in a small city in central Ontario. As part of that work, and the committees I've worked with here, I helped get the Share the Road signs put up. You'll know them, they're all over the place these days (which is itself progress!).

Since I have some history with Share the Road, this research article that just came out in PLOS One is pretty interesting:

Hess, G., & Peterson, M. N. (2015). “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” Signage Communicates U.S. Roadway Rules and Increases Perception of Safety. Plos ONE, 10(8), 1-16.

Yes, unbelievably boring title, but here's the good stuff:

A) THE VERY FIRST LINE = Many of the greatest challenges facing humanity globally can be addressed, in part, by bicycling.

Holy crap. That's a pretty serious first line!

B) SHARE THE ROAD SIGNS DON'T WORK = The research Hess & Peterson did indicates (it's just one study, this isn't necessarily definitive) that a sign saying Share the Road has as much effect on the way a motorist thinks about cyclists as NO SIGN AT ALL! What does work (or at least works better) is a sign with alternate wording, like this: Bicycles May Use Full Lane. Apparently, that wording does get the idea across to motorists that they should wait behind a cyclist until there is a safe time to pass him/her.

C) DELEWARE TAKES THEM DOWN = this is probably slightly old news for many cycling activits, but I guess the State of Deleware actually took down their Share the Road signs, because they didn't feel that the signs were sending the right message... “Some believe the plaque puts more onus on the bicyclist to share the road than the motorist”.

So, I'm hesitant to accept that Share the Road signs are useless. It'd be quite a blow to all the communities in North America that happily installed them, but yeah, what does a long-time motorist think when he/she looks at those signs?

What do you think? Would you rather have the now-traditional Share the Road signs up? Or something that looked like this?

PS - the photo above is from a 2014 Orillia Packet story, discussing Share the Road signs being put up in Oro-Medonte Township in Ontario.

1 comment:

Dan said...

The Full Lane signs are much clearer, and in road use laws are much more effective than pleas for courtesy.