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Safer Streets Together: Know the Common Bicycle Road Markings, Signs and Infrastructure

Over the next few weeks, Carlsbad Commuter will curate a series of resources, programs, and information to help equip all commuters with additional ways to contribute to Safer Streets Together.


It's no secret we are home to some of the world's best biking weather. California is also home to various ways to designate space for all to enjoy our roads and coastal lifestyle. Whether driver or bicyclist, you can reduce the risk of collisions by paying attention to bike-specific traffic infrastructure and information. Since it might have been a while since you took your driver’s test, we’ve compiled a quick list of bicycle-related signs and imagery to be aware of (images courtesy of NACTO):

1. Sharrows

Shared Lane Markings, or “sharrows,” identify streets designated as shared roadways for both cars and bicycles and are intended to serve as a visual reminder to vehicles that bicyclists may be present within the roadway. Cyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic and toward the middle of the lane and avoid unsafe passing.

If there are no marked bike lanes or sharrows present, bicyclists still have a right to share the road. Drivers should drive cautiously and expect more people on bikes to use the full roadway.

2. Shared Roadway Signs

“Share the Road” signs alert motorists that bicyclists may be traveling along the roadway. People on bikes can ride in the full lane of traffic, so all lanes are generally shared lanes. The exceptions are where bicycle traffic is specifically prohibited, such as on freeways.

3. Green Bike Lanes

The city has recently implemented new green bike lanes at approaches to many of our intersections. Like all bike lanes, the green bike lanes create dedicated space on the road for bicyclists and leverage a specific color for high visibility. When you see a bike lane that’s dashed instead of solid green, you’re in a merge zone where drivers can carefully enter the bike lane to make a turn.

Like all bike lanes, the green bike lanes are for bicyclists only. Drivers can cross bike lanes to access parking or make a legal turn but must always proceed cautiously.

When driving and turning right where there’s a bike lane, take the following steps: Signal your turn before you get to the dashed merge zone. Yield to bicyclists already in the bike lane. When it’s safe, complete your turn.

4. Bike Boxes

This green intersection marking gives a clear area for people on bikes to stop and wait for a green signal. Sometimes this is to help a bicyclist turn left more safely at an intersection. When approaching a red light, drivers should stop and wait behind these green bike boxes.

5. Roundabouts

Bicyclists have two options for biking through the roundabout depending on their comfort level. Less experienced cyclists may choose to ride around the roundabout by exiting at the bicycle ramps and using the side path and pedestrian crosswalks. More experienced bicyclists may choose to stay in the roadway with traffic and continue through the roundabout, yielding to oncoming vehicles/bikes and then circle the roundabout to your right until you reach the desired exit point.

When riding through the roundabout, don’t hug the curb and be sure to take the full lane to be as visible as possible to vehicles traveling through the roundabout. In all cases, bicyclists should be cautious and yield to people walking on the sidewalk and at the crosswalks.

6. Paths and Trails

The city has approximately 70 miles of trails, including both paved paths and unpaved natural trails. When bicyclists travel along trails, it is important to maintain a safe speed and always yield to pedestrians.

Why We Need to Create Safer Streets Together

Everyone deserves to feel safe on the road, whether driving, biking or walking.

The California Office of Traffic Safety's “Go Safely” campaign says, “The road is shared with bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. Some walk, some bike, and many of us drive. Let us be the best versions of ourselves on the road, especially if we are in the car. Bicyclists and pedestrians need drivers to be safe to keep them safe. And drivers need those around them to exercise care. Share the road. Share the responsibility. Letʼs look out for one another.”

In the City of Carlsbad, there has been a 233% increase in collisions involving bikes and e-bikes since 2019. To immediately address this public safety threat, the city declared a local state of emergency on Aug. 23, 2022.

So now is the time to slow down, look out for one another and share the road. Everyone has an important role to play in creating safer streets.

For more information about the City of Carlsbad’s declaration of local emergency and what you can do to help, see this Safer Streets Together webpage.


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