Unique sharrow designs in Chicago

Officially known as “shared lane markings”, there are at least six unique designs for the marking on Chicago streets. The current standard, as set forth by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), looks like this:

MUTCD sharrow, figure 9C-9


A sharrow design installed by CDOT’s contractors on Milwaukee Avenue across from Uprise skate shop as part of a refreshing of the sharrows in the 1st Ward. You can see the dimension of the design it replaced. The current sharrow has a “pointer” and narrower chevron; the chevron tips are aligned differently, too. Installed in 2012.


A second sharrow design, installed after water main construction on Milwaukee Avenue near Metzger Court and the Tocco restaurant. Notice how parts of it are tearing off. Installed in 2011.


A third sharrow design on Milwaukee Avenue across from the Aldi at Leavitt Street. Installed 2005.


A fourth sharrow design, on Clark Street just north of the Chicago River. Installed 2012.


A fifth sharrow design (“bike in house”) on Halsted Street just south of the Chicago River. Installed in 2003 or prior.


Then there’s the inverted sharrow, the sixth design. This location, at Elston Avenue and Webster Avenue, was installed after 2005 when the bike lane here was shortened to accommodate a left-turn lane. This is an older design but when Lincoln Avenue’s sharrows were refreshed in 2011, the design was repeated instead of switching to the current and proper design standard.

7 thoughts on “Unique sharrow designs in Chicago”

  1. If I recall correctly, the previous version of the MUTCD didn’t have a standard sharrow design. It was an innovative treatment, and cities around the country were all doing it a little differently. The newest version of the MUTCD is dated Dec. 2009, and really didn’t come out until early 2010, so it’s understandable that anything designed before that might not be the current standard.

    Also note that Chicago uses a thicker and heavier bike marking for the lower portion of the sharrow. I prefer Chicago’s version. Ultimately, I’m not sure how important any of this is, as long as it successfully communicates the correct lateral position to cyclists and lets drivers know that they are expected to “share the road.”

  2. The upside-down sharrows on Lincoln have always bothered me.

    I’m not really sure I see the benefit of sharrows. It’s just another bike marking for motorists to ignore.

      1. Yes I would. Conventional and buffered bike lanes do nothing to prevent motorists from driving in them. Far too often, I have to swerve around some inconsiderate jerk who decided to suddenly move into the bike lane to get around someone, park, get a head start on a turn lane, etc., with zero regard for the bike riders he/she just endangered. While not idiot proof, cycle tracks and protected bike lanes do far more than simple paint on the ground – making it more obvious that this space is for cyclists and cyclists alone.

        I do concede, however, that not every roadway has the capability for protected lanes (well, actually most do if the city was willing/able to remove car parking, but that a different story altogether) which is why I accept better-than-nothing buffered lanes. At the very least, they do keep many people from driving in the bike lane, but enough people disobey the lanes to make them not an ideal situation. Conventional (a.k.a. door-zone) lanes should never be built along car parking. I’d rather have nothing than a door-zone lane.

  3. Is there evidence that sharrows even promote what they’re supposed to? It
    seems like sharrows are put in place as a “we considered this road for
    bike lane, but it’s too difficult to make one, so we can just forget about this road as a possible bike route as evidenced by these little symbols.” Simply more bikes on the road would alert motorists of
    bicyclists’ right to the road, and a sign that says that bicyclists
    should ride with traffic, is what is needed rather than a bike symbol
    that most don’t understand.

      1. By golly, I should keep up to date with your blog posts. I’m curious as
        to how much more space cars give and if it’s significant enough to make
        cyclists feel more comfortable or prevent crashes.

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