DENVER – Misunderstandings on the road between cyclists and motorists can be deadly. But a simple change in the wording of traffic signs could help clarify how drivers and bicyclists should safely interact, according to a new report.
George Hess, report co-author and professor at North Carolina State University, said signs that read “Share the Road” are common but can be confusing.
“There seems to be a prevailing notion that bicyclists have to get out of the way, they’re not allowed to be in the lane. And that makes everybody feel unsafe,” Hess said.
The study found people who saw a sign that read “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” were more likely to recognize a cyclist’s right to be on the road.
He adds, people who saw the traditional “Share the Road” sign responded the same as people who saw no sign at all as though people on bikes either shouldn’t be there or were hogging the lane.
Hess said even though traffic regulations in all 50 states give bicycles the same rights on roads as motorized vehicles, the most important factor keeping more people from riding their bicycles to work is concern about personal safety.
“We think departments of transportation nationwide should reconsider the use of the ‘Share the Road,’ and think about replacing them with ‘Bicycles May Use Full Lane,’” Hess said.
Hess said commuting by bicycle might also be the single biggest environmental move most people could make. He says bicycles produce no greenhouse-gas emissions, and they can reduce traffic congestion, while helping to lower obesity rates and improve public health so long as everyone agrees to actually share the road.