Gendered Sharrows: Innovative road markings used for the first time

Sharrows are road markings to direct cycle traffic. They aim to make cyclists more visible on the roads. In Mödling in Lower Austria, a new form of road marking is used on the road connecting the train station with the HTL school. The use of these new markings intended to appeal to female cyclists was planned by Cycle Competence member Rosinak & Partner. This innovative use on an important school route is followed-up by an effectiveness study.

Sharrows are being used more and more often all over the world. Starting in the USA and Canada they found their way to Europe, especially to France, Belgium, the Czech Republic or Slovenia. Meanwhile, there are some successful examples in Austria as well, e.g. Tulln/Lower Austria or in Reutte/Tyrol, where Cycle Competence member Planoptimo Büro Köll initiated the first ever use of these markings in Austria. An effectiveness study conducted by the city of Vienna in 2015 confirms the positive effects of similar road markings (article). Whereever sharrows are used, car drivers are paying more attention to cyclists. And these in turn are keeping a safer distance to parking cars, thus avoiding being hit by suddenly opening doors (“Dooring”).


Sharrows in the traffic-calmed 30km/h zone increase the safe co-existence of cars and bicycles.

Sharrows used on school route in Mödling

In Mödling in Lower Austria, the large-size sharrows were applied for the first time in August 2016. They are used along a new cycling route between the train station and the HTL via Goethestraße and Franz Schubert Gasse. The traffic planning bureau Rosinak & Partner together with the municipality of Mödling and the road safety board (KfV) have developed a unique marking creating an identity. They named it “Mödlinger Sharrows”. Measurements and look were optimised based on experiences from other cities. But the form is intentionally different from the standardised cycling pictograms as set down in the road markings regulations to avoid confusion with a cycle lane. And what is more, the “Mödlinger Sharrows” are an important socio-political statement: There are male and female sharrows! The same number of each was painted alternatingly along the route.


What do sharrows mean for road users?

The sharrows were painted onto the road in side streets where there is insufficient space for separate cycle paths or cycle lanes. But the aim was to make cycling in mixed traffic with cars on these roads safer. Car traffic can still – just like it used to – flow without restrictions. A before-and-after research by the KfV will accompany the implementation of the “Mödlinger Sharrows” on a scientific level and test their effectiveness. Cycle Competence Austria will report about the result!


The measurements of the sharrow markings on the road cross-section ©Rosinak & Partner 


Posted on September 13, 2016