Whakatāne District road users will notice new road markings on several streets in the area during the coming months. As part of the Active Whakatāne initiative, Whakatāne District Council will be applying ‘sharrows’ to urban streets with low traffic volumes to encourage shared use on our roads.

The term ‘sharrow’ refers to the combination of the words ‘share’ and ‘arrow’, and was coined in San Francisco more than fifteen years ago when the concept was first implemented. Whakatāne District Council Manager Transportation Martin Taylor says the project is aligned with the Active Whakatāne initiative, designed to allow safe cycling connections to main arterial roads.

“A sharrow is a painted diagram of a bicycle and arrows that indicates cyclists can use more of the lane where there is potential risk, but not enough room for a dedicated cycle lane,” he says. “Sharrows have been executed successfully in other towns and cities around New Zealand and also overseas.”

Mr Taylor says the New Zealand Road Code also acknowledges that cyclists can ‘take the lane’ where the road is too narrow to allow vehicles to safely pass them, and notes that sharrow markings may indicate this in certain situations. “Road rules promote sharing the road between motorists and cyclists, so there is a need from both sides to do so responsibly.”

The low-cost scheme will initially be installed on the following streets; Salonika, Crete, and Short Streets, providing a quiet streets connection between King Street and Commerce Street via Rex Morpeth Park. Another quiet street route to be marked is Hikurangi Street, Tūī Street and Apanui Avenue, providing a safer cycling connection from the Warren Cole walkway near the Landing Road Bridge, through Warren Park, past Apanui School and on into town. The south end of Garaway Street will also be sharrow marked, providing a quiet street connection between the new Wainui Te Whara shared use path and Bridge Street.

Local cycle coach and biking enthusiast, Richard Hamer says any initiative that is going to promote safer communities is a winner in his books. “Sharrows on our roads will arguably benefit both people in cars and on bikes, as they raise awareness to be considerate of others and keep safe.”

An Active Whakatāne strategy is currently in development and will act as a key reference document to ensure any future projects support the community’s desire for safe and easily-accessible travel routes for active modes of transport.