Your trying to get in shape and reduce your carbon foot print so you decide to buy a bike and start using it to commute to work. Recently, I bought a new road bike, thereby replacing my multi-gear cruiser, and heading to work. It was great! I shaved 15 minutes off of my bike commute. The only problem is that it became apparent that there are significant risks from motorists that don't give enough space.
Bicyclists can get caught between the door of parked cars and a large moving vehicles during their commutes. Some motorists are in a rush to get to work and feel perfectly safe zipping by slower moving bikes at 40+ miles an hour. No slowing down, no 3 feet of distance, no concern what-so-ever! The bicyclist moves closer to the cars and soon finds they are being squeezed out by the occasional aggressive driver.
Sharrows, shared bike lanes, are a shared lane between the bicyclist and the car. Unlike unmarked lanes where bikes must be on the right hand of the road putting them in danger they are free to use the whole lane when it is designated as such. It gets bikes away from parked cars while notifying drivers they must "share" the road.
Yesterday I rode my bike into work and was nearly hit by an aggressive driver that left less than a food of distance between his vehicle and me. Even though I drove today I was pleasantly surprised to find shared road markings. The gods of fate must be smiling down on my bike path today as I seek to navigate the benefits of biking while still protecting myself from becoming road kill. It may or may not actually make me safer but at least I feel bold enough to use the lane.