UPDATE: I’ve changed my opinion on sharrows. Please see the post “Optimized Sharrow Usage” for more.
It’s a sharrow!
They’re all over the place on Gano Street coming up from the I-195 bridge. I believe that the idea is to guide people from the East Bay Bike Path to the Blackstone Blvd. bike lanes, and from there to the Blackstone Valley Bike Path.
The sharrows are close to the curb when on the side of the street where there is no parking, and well outside of car distance on the side of the street where parking is allowed.
The above is an example of a sharrow alongside a parking lane. The inner-most part of the sharrow could put a cyclist in the dreaded “door zone,” but the outer-most 3/4 of the sharrow is well outside of the door zone. The savvy cyclist should, as always, stay well outside of the doorzone.
For the uninitiated (that is to say, anyone who doesn’t spend all of their time thinking about bike infrastructure), “sharrow” is short for “shared lane marking arrow” (or something like that). These are used to indicate that an area of the street is appropriate for bicycles to use, but it is not a bike lane per se, so cars can use that area too. When I look at the symbol, it makes perfect sense to me, but as I said, I spend too many of my waking hours thinking about bike infrastructure. So, does the average Rhode Island driver know what is meant by this strange new symbol on the pavement? Since the average RI driver doesn’t seem to know what is meant by a 4-way Stop sign (or a No Turn On Red, No U-Turn, 25 MPH, One-Way sign) my guess is that they won’t really understand what these sharrows mean.
Still, I’m very happy to see the sharrows and I look forward to the day when I can have a reasonable, informative discussion with a motorist about what these strange marking symbolize.