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Sharrows won't protect you from a swarm of bees, or cars

Sharrows, those ubiquitous and controversial arrows painted on our roads, continue drawing criticism. I recently saw a take from Momentum Magazine which compares their effectiveness to that against a swarm of angry bees.

Studies have shown that sharrows don’t actually provide any real safety benefits for cyclists. In fact, they may even make things worse by encouraging drivers to pass cyclists too closely. It’s like trying to protect yourself from a swarm of angry bees with a sign that says “Please don’t sting me.” It’s just not going to work.

Emphasis by me. Quoted from: Sharrows used to make sense in theory, but are now useless and possibly dangerous in practice.

I would like to take that analogy further. Imagine your government was funding those swarms of angry bees, and they even built your street specifically to accommodate a heavy flow of angry bee swarms. When you went to complain that these angry bees were stinging you, their solution was painting a “please don’t sting me” sign.

You may think that’s uncharitable, since bees obviously can’t read a sign. But, as I wrote in my last post about sharrows, most drivers don’t know what sharrows mean either. In fact, most bicycle riders and lawmakers don’t know.

Our streets are deadly by design, not by accident. Lawmakers shouldn’t endorse building dangerous streets and then try to offset that by adding signage, especially by signage that only confuses people.

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