Downtown sharrow network


The City of Kitchener is one of the first municipalities in Ontario to encourage a single-file approach amongst cyclists and motorists in a downtown urban environment through the installation of sharrows.

The sharrows are intended to remind cyclists and motorists to be predictable, respectful, and courteous when travelling in downtown Kitchener. Sharing the road with other motorists and cyclists plays an important role in creating a comfortable, welcoming and vibrant community.

What is a sharrow?

Sharrows are road markings, represented as a bicycle with two chevrons, which remind motorists and cyclists to be courteous and share the road. Super-sharrows expand upon regular sharrows through further treatments such as coloured paint to create a highly visible presence on the street. Sharrows can provide a variety of benefits for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists, such as:

  • Reducing incidences of wrong-way cycling and sidewalk cycling, improving safety for pedestrians and reinforcing positive cycling behaviour.
  • Assisting cyclists in positioning themselves with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a door-zone conflict.
  • Advising cyclists that they may 'take the lane' where travel lanes are too narrow for riding alongside a vehicle safely and comfortably within the same lane.
  • Creating a safe and predictable environment where motorists are aware of the space that cyclists are likely to occupy in the lane.

Important information for cyclists

  •  The sharrows in the middle of the traffic lanes indicate that cyclists may take the full lane and reminds drivers to share the road with cyclists.
  • Although it is recommended for cyclists to take the lane on narrow roadways, cyclists may also ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb. Cyclists should ride one meter from the curb to avoid the "door zone" of parked vehicles.
  • As much as possible, cyclists should travel in a straight line and maintain a constant speed. When changing lanes or turning, cyclists should shoulder check, signal, and shoulder check again to ensure the way is safe and clear.
  • Cyclists should ride in the direction of traffic and in single-file. Sidewalks are reserved for pedestrians only, although cyclists are welcome to dismount and walk with their bicycle on a sidewalk.
  • Cyclists are considered vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act and are obligated to obey all traffic rules as identified in the Highway Traffic Act and Ontario's Guide to Safe Cycling.

Important Information for motorists

  • The sharrows in the middle of the traffic lanes indicate that cyclists may take the full lane and reminds drivers to share the road with cyclists.
  • Motorists should be aware of the context of Downtown Kitchener, which has narrow traffic lanes, frequent blocks, wide sidewalks, high pedestrian traffic, and low traffic speeds. This is an ideal environment for cyclists and motorists to be sharing the road.
  • Motorists should only pass cyclists when there is enough room to do so safely. A comfortable distance is a minimum of one metre between the motorists and cyclist.
  • Motorists should always reduce their speed if passing and watch carefully for cyclists when making lane changes or turns.
  • Motorists should be cautious when pulling into or out of parking spaces and always look for oncoming cyclists before opening a car door.
  • Motorists should be aware that cyclists are vulnerable to different hazards than drivers (e.g. minor pot holes and debris), and must provide enough space for cyclists to manoeuver comfortably (normally about 1 meter).

We want to hear from you

The City of Kitchener is currently exploring innovative events, programs, and incentives to support and encourage positive cycling and driving behaviour. To learn more about these programs and how you can get involved, or if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to contact us!

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