“Be considerate” might be the appropriate message behind the new sharrows that are appearing on some roads near Winthrop University and downtown Rock Hill.
Sharrow probably is a new word for many. A sharrow designates that a certain stretch of road has traffic lanes to be shared by drivers in vehicles and bicycle riders. The symbol is a large white representation of a bicycle with arrows pointing forward that city workers have painted every 250 feet or so along selected city roads.
Sharrows are different from designated bike lanes. Bike lanes, which are painted in white on the side of roads, are reserved for cyclists only, while sharrows are meant to be shared by cyclists and drivers.
Sharrows are used on streets where there is not enough room on the side of the road for a bike lane. If a cyclist is using a sharrow, drivers should move to the left lane to safely pass the cyclist.
If there is no passing lane, drivers should wait until oncoming traffic subsides and it is safe to pass the cyclist. As noted, be considerate.
We hope drivers and cyclists alike will quickly pick up the protocol. With better weather arriving in the days ahead, more and more cyclists are likely to be out and about.
The city has started painting bike lanes and sharrows near Winthrop and downtown in part because more students ride bikes as a primary mode of transportation than the general public. Bike lanes have been established on Charlotte Avenue from Peoples Place downtown to Lucas Street, near Glencairn Garden.
Outside vehicle lanes on Charlotte Avenue from Peoples Place to Wilson Street will be designated for cyclists and on-street parking, giving drivers only one lane for that strip. And sharrows have been added to portions of Elizabeth Lane, Oakland Avenue and Eden Terrace.
Safety, of course, is the primary concern. But city planners also are eager to create “bicycle corridors” and encourage more people to ride bikes.
Installing an ambitious bicycle corridor plan is likely to take some time. But city officials hope that simply adopting the plan will help Rock Hill earn more grant money to paint more bike lanes or sharrows.
The plan also should help city officials coordinate with the state Department of Transportation to include the bike markings in upcoming road projects.
But the public will have to voluntarily cooperate for this effort to be successful. Drivers will have to be patient when behind a cyclist in a sharrow lane, waiting until the path is clear before trying to pass.
We share the city’s goal of encouraging more people to ride bikes. Cycling is a cheap, clean mode of transportation as well as a healthy form of recreation that people can enjoy for most of their lives.
We ask that motorists take notice of the new bike lanes and sharrows, learn how to use them and take special care when cyclists are on the road.