Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road: Can bikes run stop signs in sharrows?

Question: The new green “sharrows” for bikes are confusing. The green ones are painted on busy streets indicating that the cross street carries bike traffic; these roads have stop signs. I have seen two different bikers ride right through the stop sign, causing cars with the right of way to brake violently to avoid hitting them.

In both cases. the biker pointed down at the sharrow and gave an obscene gesture to those cars I assume had the right of way on the busy street. Both bikers ran the stop sign and appear to assume the sharrows give them some kind of right of way. What are the rules here?

Answer: The rules of the road say the bicycles had to stop for the stop sign. I sent this question on to the city of Bellingham Alternate Transportation Office to get their response. This is what they had to say: “Thanks for checking in on this. We’re putting out an education campaign so bicyclists and drivers know what to do with the new facilities we’re installing.

“Stop signs and red lights mean the same thing whether a person is riding a bicycle or driving a car — STOP!

“The green sharrows are installed at intersections where low-volume bicycle boulevard streets cross busy arterials. The green pavement alerts both bicyclists and motorists to pay extra attention, while guiding bicyclists across the intersection. They do not give bicyclists the right of way. Bicyclists must stop at the stop sign before proceeding through the intersection.

For more information on the new bicycle signs and street markings, you can go to It has a piece about our new bike facilities.”

Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices. Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who serves on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force. For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to