If you’re an avid bicyclist, you likely know about shared vehicle/bike lanes (also known as sharrows.) The lane marking typically consists of two arrowheads (chevrons) above a bicyclist. They identify lanes that both vehicles and cyclists can use.
The California Driver’s Handbook defines them this way: “Shared roadway bicycle markings: Alert drivers that bicyclists can occupy the lane and help bicyclists maintain a safe lane position in traffic.”
Why these shared lanes can be dangerous for cyclists
While there were high hopes for sharrows when they started appearing in California at least a decade ago, fewer lanes are being designated as such. That’s in no small part because they don’t necessarily make bicyclists safer. In fact, they often give them a false sense of security.
Drivers often don’t know what they are. Further, when cyclists and motorists share lanes, the cyclist is generally the one most at risk. Many drivers have little or no patience with cyclists when they’re in a bike lane — let alone riding ahead of them in a shared lane.
Don’t hurry to accept a settlement – or admit fault
If you have suffered injuries in a crash in a lane marked with sharrows, it’s important to remember that you most likely had a right to be there, whether the driver who hit you thought you did or not. Drivers who choose to drive in those lanes have an obligation to maintain a safe space between their vehicle and bicyclists.
A car vs. bike crash can cause catastrophic, long-term injuries for the cyclist. Not all of these may be readily apparent in the days or even initial weeks following the crash. That’s just one reason why it’s crucial that you don’t agree to a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurer until its terms have been reviewed by an attorney. It’s also crucial not to accept blame, no matter how much the driver thinks the crash was your fault. The best thing you can do is to seek experienced legal guidance to protect your rights – including your right to fair compensation that can cover your expenses and other damages.