Streetfilms: Sharrows Point the Safe Way to Bike Across Rail Tracks

It’s something even the most experienced
cyclists do: wipe out while crossing a set of train tracks. When you ride across rails, you need to maneuver your bike’s angle of approach so that
you hit the tracks as perpendicularly as possible. But even knowing that,
some riders don’t slow down enough to sashay properly, and newbies have no idea how the angles work until it’s too

In Seattle, they’re trying something I’ve never seen before that
goes beyond the usual warning signs. The DOT is using "sharrows" and
markings to visually guide cyclists through these
crossings. Anecdotally, it seems to work well. I found it reassuring
that my path was predetermined as I approached, instead of having to
guesstimate. Stay within the lines, and all will be good.

But as John Mauro from the Cascade Bicycle Club points out, this is only an interim solution to filling in the missing link in the famous Burke-Gilman Trail. Families out cycling for the day shouldn’t have to contend with
dangerous sets of tracks in the first place. Still, it’s nice to see
that DOTs all across the country are getting creative and using cost
effective solutions (just a few marks with paint) to keep us a little

  • Groovy inventive design!

    This is a great example of an “AASHTO Green Book as a guide book not a rule book” approach.

  • Odd use of the two different Sharrow markers. I thought the “Bike in house” was not favored anymore.

    Also, Clarence. It would have been nice to have seen the approach and the departure to get a better idea of how these two crucial areas were handled. These are always critical when a design calls for taking the lane particularly if the route before and after are in a bike lane or pathway.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Clarence

    Thanks Andy. I would have done a more in-depth piece on it, but literally ran into this while I was late for one interview and coming off of riding bikes with the NEW Seattle mayor, so it was tight to even get the footage I saw. Still, I thought just throwing this up there would be useful (there are a number of advocates in towns with rails already thanking me for just this)

    I will say, despite the markings, this is still a tough stretch. Advocates have a plan to make the greenway happen but it has been a struggle, so it really is making the best situation out of a worse situation.

    See here:



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