Share the Road Awareness Programs
The purpose of Share the Roadprograms is to increase drivers’ awareness of bicyclists’ rights and the need for mutual respect of bicyclists on the roadway. Campaign education efforts are intended to improve the safety of all road users, including bicyclists and to enhance the understanding and compliance with relevant traffic laws. Currently, some cities and States are specifically changing their Share the Roadsigns to indicate that bicyclists may occupy the full lanes. This is because Share the Road is perceived differently by different users and not always in its intended way to encourage motorists to look out for and drive safely around bicyclists.
Limited evidence suggests that Share the Road signs can have positive effects on drivers’ lane position and speed when passing bicyclists but does not indicate that the signs lead to increased lateral passing distance of bicyclists by drivers. Kay et al. (2014) conducted field studies examining drivers’ passing behavior on a rural two-lane highway before and after the installation of “Share the Road ” signs. The presence of the sign did not significantly increase lateral passing distance when a driver was passing a person on a bicycle, and lateral passing distances were also dependent on the passing vehicle type, whether there was traffic in the opposing lane and the lane position of bicyclist. Fewer drivers traveled in the rightmost lane position after the signs were installed, and drivers also reduced the vehicle speed by an average of 2.5 mph when passing bicyclists in the presence of the sign. LaMondia and Duthie (2012) found some positive safety effects based on the presence of “Share the Road” signage, but it is unclear whether these effects would be present in any road context, as they only tested four-lane arterial roads in urban locations.
A survey, drawn from a convenience sample of close to 1,800 respondents, indicates that “Share the Road” signage may be less effective than a “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” sign in conveying the message to motorists that people on bicyclists may use the travel lane (Hess & Peterson, 2015). The understanding of a “Share the Road” sign was different for those whose primary commute mode was “other” compared to those who responded that they primarily commuted in a motor vehicle. At least one State has discontinued use of “Share the Road” signage (Hess & Peterson, 2015).