A look at College sharrows - makes for better sharing?
Have the new sharrows had any affect on cyclist and driver behaviour? I decided to see for myself now that the sharrows have been painted on College. I snapped some photos during rush hour when the lanes were free of parked cars. While taking to heart Mez's note of caution that the meaning of the sharrows is being diluted and subverted by allowing drivers to park on them outside of rush hour, it's still interesting to see how there be some benefit to the new symbols. My quick observations showed that most cyclists on sharrows tended to ride further out than on a similar road without sharrows.
West of Ossington on College, I stood looking west on a stretch where I didn't see any parked cars in either direction. During a few minutes I saw a number of cyclists cruising quickly towards downtown. I might be wrong but it appeared as if most of the cyclists were riding much further out than they might on streets without sharrows, effectively taking the lane. Could it be that a small increase in cycling confidence is in evidence here?
At the same time I saw most drivers avoid the curb lane even though they were allowed and there were no cars parked on the curb within view. Could it be that drivers were a bit more careful because of the sharrows?
I compared this to rush hour on Queen West, which has no sharrows. In my unscientific, but perhaps still significant, observations, it appears as if the sharrows have had some effect in encouraging cyclists to take the lane, whereas the beleaguered Queen cyclists were still timidly hugging the curb and allowing cars to bully them.