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Shared Bike Lanes Cause Confusion For Cyclists, Motorists And Traffic Officers

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Shared, or so-called “sharrow”, lanes meant to make traveling safer for cyclists and motorists are causing confusion on the road.

Wes Hijh told CBS2/KCAL9’s Amy Johnson he was driving his bike in West Hollywood Tuesday morning when he was approached by a L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy.

The 30-year-old was wearing a helment camera at the time and posted a video of the encounter on YouTube.

“He just pulled up alongside me and started talking to me and told me I needed to be farther to the right. [I] pointed out that I was riding along the sharrow, which – based on my own research and reading of the laws and why they are there – that is where I’m supposed to be riding for my safety,” he said.

According to Hijh, he was simply following rules stated in the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which includes a passage on the use of shared lane markings and how they might be occupied by cyclists.

“He didn’t seem like a terrible person, he just didn’t know,” Hijh said of the officer.

The sharrows, or shared lane markings, can be found all over the Southland.

Many people, however, do not know what they’re for.

“No I have no idea. I’ve never noticed this before,” a local woman said.

“When they are designed like this in the middle of the road they are not really safe,” said another man.

Ted Rogers has been cycling for more than 30 years. He is one of the most popular bicyle bloggers in Southern California and sits on the board of the L.A. Bike Coalition.

He said the confusion is not uncommon.

“The big problem with a lot of police departments, particularly the sheriff’s department and the CHP, is that they don’t train their officers properly in bike law,” Rogers said.

“What a sharrow does is it says this is a road where we recommend that you ride, and this is a message to bicyclists and to drivers that this is where you’re supposed to be.”

The L.A. County Sherrif’s Department told CBS2/KCAL9 News Hijh was told to ride closer to the curb for the safety of bicyclists as well as other motorists. They said no ticket was issued in his case.

Hijh is speaking out with the hope alerting motorists, cyclists and traffic officers about the issue will prevent dangerous situations from arising.

“I want the public and police officers to be more educated on cyclists’ rights and responsibilities on the road,” he said.

Spokespersons from DMV and the CHP confirmed the word “sharrow” does not appear in the California vehicle code which appears to leave room for interpretation when sharing the road.

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