Sharrows may be new to you. I first heard of the concept just over a year ago when they were first placed and implemented in Long Beach California. Now they have come to my neighborhood. So far I really like them!
Sharrow is a made-up contraction of the words "shared" roadway" lanes. I'm not quite sure of the lexicon, but Sharrows (shared roadway lanes) are the modern version of the bike lane. The difference is that they are not placed at the extreme right of the road and out of the car lane (placing bicyclists in the dangerous "door zone"). Instead they are placed IN THE ROAD. This can actually be safer for the bicyclist.
There are a few variations on the markings, but generally are made up of a bicycle with 2 forward-pointing chevrons above it. Here are some examples:
When I first learned about the concept I was a bit skeptical because I have been hit by a car before and can speak from experience, it hurts (my spine was broken, my face was broken, and my shoulder was dislocated). I'm a little shy about making drivers mad at me by brazenly riding in the "car lane." However, what I have since learned is that having the road markings visible and riding right over them legitimizes my existence. It shows anyone who can see that I am exactly where I should (and have a right to) be.
In my neighborhood they have been slowly appearing on streets that are frequently used by cyclists. I have begun riding further outside the "door zone" and into the "roadway." What I have found is that when I am riding on a road with sharrow markings the cars just give me a wide birth and pass on by. No honking or threatening with close buzzing. But if I try to ride like this in a part of town that does not have sharrows the drivers treat me very differently. I am more likely to endanger myself by trying to get out of their way. I have come to really like having them around and hope the city hasn't finished placing them. I'd love to see more.
Have you seen a difference in driver behavior as a result of roadway markings?