Sharrow Road Marking - what it means

The ‘Sharrow’ marking, as you see on the left, resembles a standard cycle symbol supplemented with two chevron arrow markings. The distinctive stencil-style road marking has been used overseas to improve cyclist safety and promote better road sharing.  Following trials around the country it is now in use and you will see these road markings around our city.


Sharrows indicate that cyclists can position themselves safely in lanes where it is too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to comfortably travel side by side. The markings are there to remind drivers they should expect to see people on bikes riding further out in the traffic lane. They may be used in conjunction with "Share with Care" signage.

Motorists:  Be patient as cyclists are entitled to their place in the lane. Do not attempt to overtake them on narrow sections or around parked vehicles. Slow down and wait until you can pass safely.

Cyclists: You can occupy the traffic lane along narrow sections and around parked vehicles. Only move over to allow vehicles to pass only when you have room to do so safely. Please note: The sharrow markings are not intended to show exactly where on the road you should ride.


In 2012, the Road Controlling Authority (RCA) Research and Guidelines Steering Group agreed to establish a national cycling signs and markings working group. This new working group convened in 2012 and its membership contained a mix of Road Controlling Authorities throughout NZ.

This group agreed to undertake trials on a number of markings to further define a cycle lane, a shared lane and the safest route for cyclists.

The need for a shared lane marking within the NZ context has arisen due to the need to try and provide an additional 'toolbox' measure to help in the design of infrastructure. Internationally the use of shared lane markings has, on the whole, proved successful in improving safety, way finding and awareness of cyclist routes. The RCA working group identified 'sharrow markings' and 'supplementary cycle lane' markings for trial.

In 2014 Nelson was one of the cities involved in a national 'Sharrow’ marking trial, using Hardy, Tasman and Brook Streets for several months. Driver and cyclist behaviour was monitored during this time and this was followed up with a survey of all road users.