When I came to this bike lane in Baltimore, I had to stare at it for a minute or two before I realized why it looked so unusual to me: it is the first time I’ve seen a bike lane in the US that is painted green for its entire length.
In Portland, we started using green paint a few years ago in our bike boxes and have since expanded its use to other conflict points, like the weave area after the start of a turning lane where cars are crossing the bike lane. As a driver, the green paint is effective at grabbing your attention and reminding you to double check for cyclists before entering that area.
In visiting the Netherlands this summer, I was struck by the fact that most of the bike facilities there are paved with red asphalt. I don’t know if it actually accomplished anything on the network of cycletracks (other than the fact that it looked really cool!), but on shared roads it was a clear way of demarcating which parts of the road belonged to which modes.
One thing that’s consistently frustrating as a cyclist is when cars stop in the bike lane. Something tells me I’m not alone there. I’d imagine that, if nothing else, coloring your bike lanes is marvelously effective at reducing this, and it probably helps keep moving cars from drifting into the bike lane as well. But I wonder if using color for a whole bike lane might reduce its effectiveness at conflict points, where it’s no longer a drastic change that grabs a driver’s attention. Conversely, maybe ubiquitous color serves as a constant reminder that lots of people use bikes on the road in question. Perhaps the color also helps with the public relations aspect, such that the “interested but concerned” pool of potential cyclists is encouraged by the literal and figurative visibility of the infrastructure. But is this all worth the fairly significant (as bike projects go, at least) extra cost of coloring these lanes?
I spent a large chunk of my 20′s doing information design, and so I’ve long been interested in the usage of colors and how we react to different colors displayed in different situations. This is an interesting topic, and I’ll be curious to see how cities use color like as they build cycling infrastructures and how it winds up working.