Back in October last year, I sent an inquiry to the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) to ask them to review the 'SHARE THE ROAD' sign. I am very pleased to say that this proposal was approved and a new volunteer project was established at the Spring Technical Meetings in April this year. The scope of the project is to review the potential addition of a lateral dimension on the sign as well as comprehension testing. Read on...
If the scope of changes were just minor modifications to the existing sign, it may look something like the sign mock-up shown below. Be sure to read the update as to why minor changes to the existing sign may not be the best approach.
Description of minor changes:
Providing such guidance on what to do downstream would help avoid situations where a cyclist feels like they’ve been dumped out into a hostile environment, and again make drivers more aware that the vulnerable road user is permitted to be there, in the middle of the lane if necessary.
Finally, of course, none of the above replaces high quality safe separated infrastructure for cyclists, but until such time as we have complete protected networks, placing the onus on car drivers to give cyclists space is one small step in the right direction.
Following a number of suggestions via Twitter, I wanted to capture all those great ideas back within this original post, below are a number of suggestions and it would be great to see these all go through comprehension testing in Canada against the existing signage.
Bike Delaware sent a link was sent to this Bike Delaware page. There is some great background information for the TAC project team. The State of Delaware discontinued use of Share the Road sign in November 2013! In February 2016, Oregon also dropped the sign from use. In both cases, the well known lack of comprehension with this sign was cited as the primary reason for discontinuing its use.
The Bike Delaware article also refers to a 2015 Study by North Carolina State University (NCSU) that assessed comprehension of three common ways to sign shared road space. Their conclusion to the study states "Of the three bicycle-related traffic control devices we tested, “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signage delivered the message about the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists and motorists with respect to travel lane occupancy most consistently: bicyclists are permitted in the travel lane and need not move to allow motorists to pass them within the lane. Although Shared Lane Markings did increase comprehension in some cases, they did not deliver the message as consistently as “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signage. We speculate that a combination of “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signage and Shared Lane Markings might be particularly comprehensible. “Share the Road” signage failed to provide any additional comprehension in this regard when compared to the unsigned roadways in any of our tests. “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” showed particularly strong increases in comprehension for novice bicyclists and private motor vehicle commuters, critical target audiences for these traffic control devices and for efforts to promote bicycling in the US."
A few more messages one from Bike Delaware, noted that they have changed the rules of the road requiring vehicles to fully change lanes to pass, and thanks to @martynschmoll for suggesting the related sign below would be a much better option.
An old colleague sent this example from Spain. This one is interesting in that it is a supporting tab for a regular sign. It also shows people riding side-by-side, not something I can see making its way onto a Canadian sign, but interesting nevertheless. Its very clear that the car is passing based on the flashing indicator, and very clear that they should be 1.5m from the people riding bikes.
The most recent comment (also from @martynschmoll) relates to the category of the sign. The existing "Share the Road" sign is a yellow diamond shape, used to warn of hazards ahead. Are we really calling people riding bicycles hazards?! A more appropriate sign would be a white square or rectangular sign that explains driving regulations such as the "May Use Full Lane" sign, ideally with the "Change Lanes to Pass" addition or a variation of the 1.5m passing requirement, something like the mock-up shown below.
My only doubt with the passing distance option is, how many drivers understand or can judge a 1.5m gap. Instructing drivers to fully change lanes seems to provide clearer instruction with less judgement required by the driver. It also means if cyclists are in the right half of the lane, the gap is that much bigger and safer.