So what is the explanation for those double arrow bike symbols or sharrows painted on the road?
These important road markings serve to keep us all safely sharing our streets in vehicles, on bike, and on foot.
For those new to sharrows (the bike symbols with 2 chevrons) they serve multiple purposes:
Sharrows indicate a shared lane environment for bikes and vehicles (some drivers may need that little extra reminder that bikes are likely to be present).
Sharrows reinforce legitimacy of bike traffic in the street and indicate that this is a good bike route.
Sharrows guide the bicyclist as to proper positioning in the lane (away from parked vehicles and the “car door opening zone” making the rider much more visible to all road users. Cycling close to to a parked vehicle risks being doored (i.e., hit and thrown into the street as a door is opened).
On busy streets, bikes need to be visible and take control of the lane so that vehicles don't try the illegal unsafe maneuver of squeezing by (the legal requirement is a 3-foot gap between vehicle and rider). The chevrons of the sharrow show you the proper positioning to achieve that. In case of an aggressive driver who ignores the law and decides to close pass, the biker has some room to take evasive action and move over toward the curb. It takes confidence to ride this way. A mirror really helps to keep you informed as to what traffic is doing behind you; you can signal to them to hold back until it is safe for them to pass.
Bicyclists creeping along in the gutter and/or close to parked cars are invisible and very likely to get “doored” (someone opens a car door right in front of you ) and/or close passed (driver doesn't see you, they think that they can pass and brush past you). So ride right on top of the sharrows (assuming there are no obstructions like parked cars) and be visible and safe.
Park Avenue and Birchwood Road, as parts of the Lake Links trail around White Bear Lake with low traffic volumes and 20 mph speed limits, have been marked with sharrows and other bike/pedestrian supporting signage.