Almost all of us who ride in the street have been harassed from time to time by motorists who shout at us to move over or that we should be riding on the sidewalk, despite the fact that the Vehicle Code clearly allows bicyclists to move to the center when a lane “is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane”. (Quoted from CVC 21202 (a) (3).)
In some cases, traffic engineers have placed signs that say SHARE THE ROAD to remind drivers of their obligation to allow bicyclists their space on the road. The trouble is that many motorists interpret this sign in exactly the opposite way than intended. The trouble is with the ambiguity of the word “share”. It’s the difference between a mom who tells her kids to share a toy (first one should play with it, then the other) and the mom who tells her kids to share an ice cream sundae with two straws.
Rather than understanding "SHARE THE ROAD" to mean that a bicyclist may be on the road and the car should travel behind it until it’s safe to pass, many motorists interpret the sign to mean that the bicyclist and motorist should ride side by side. This is exactly the wrong understanding of “sharing” in this case.
Fortunately, in 2012 California has authorized the use of a new sign that removes the ambiguity. It states clearly and simply "BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE".
I would like to see traffic authorities in the South Bay to start using this “BMUFL” sign (as it’s often called). To my mind, the locations that should take precedence are those streets frequently used by cyclists where the lanes are too narrow for side-by-side travel.
Those of us on the San Jose Team have started to compile a list of streets where we would like to see the BMUFL sign installed. I invite readers to post additional locations, along with your reasons why such a sign would be appropriate. I’ll compile the list and, together with the San Jose Team, we will prioritize it and present our suggestions to the various BPACs and DOTs around town.