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Colored Bike Lanes Come to Tempe

1:50 PM PDT on March 25, 2008

This Vancouver Street Shows Two Bike Amenities We Should See in L.A.: Bike Boxes and Colored Lanes

Los Angeles cyclists, long jealous of the bike amenities in Portland, Vancouver and cities throughout Europe, can add a new city to the list of those thinking more progressively about bike facilities: the City of Tempe.  The smallish city in Arizona is adding a little color to their streets to try and make bike rides a little safer.

The East Valley Tribune reports that Tempe Transit, in direct response to complaints from cyclists that motorists were veering into the bike lanes, has "painted" bike lanes at two high risk intersections.  If the epoxy substance used to color the lanes holds up, Tempe plans to recolor lanes in other parts of the city. According to Tempe Transit spokesperson Amanda Nelson the new lanes are already receiving rave reviews from cyclists.

Now it's one thing to trail progressive cities such as Portland and Vancouver when it comes to adding bike amenities, but looking jealously at a smaller city such as Tempe is something else entirely.

No American city has completely colored all of it’s bike lanes, but theSan Francisco Bike Coalitionis anxious to see it tried in the Bay Area. On their website, they list the advantages of colored lanes:

Using colored pavement in the bike lanes has several benefits: safety, comfort, and promotion. Colored pavement helps visually elevate the prominence of the bike lane on the road, further defining the cyclists' space and helping differentiate this road space from that which motorists feel free to use. The coloring is a constant and bold visual reminder to motorists that the bike lane (and hence, cyclists) are present.

The eye-catching asphalt also serves as an advertisement of sorts for bicycling. As it does in European countries where the treatment is prevalent, it makes the statement that bicycling is important to San Francisco-and that the city is taking great strides to improve the experience of bicyclists.

The SFBC's preferred color choice for bike lanes is a brick red, reserving brighter colors like blue for shorter discrete high-conflict zones. There's no need to fear slick paint-colored asphalt technology has worked on that. In fact, the only tactile difference bicyclists will notice is that the newly paved colored bike lane offers a much smoother ride than the rough and potholed asphalt we've had to endure. Portland, Oregon and Cambridge, Massachusetts have both experimented successfully with blue bike lanes in areas of bike/car conflict. A recent study in Portland found that the number of motorists actively looking for and yielding to cyclists at conflict points dramatically increased after these bike lane segments were painted blue. While no American city has yet used colored pavement for an entire bike network, such treatment is common in European cities.

As Los Angeles moves forward to create a new Bicycle Master Plan, the safety impacts of colored lanes isn’t the only reason to consider making them common place in Los Angeles; the cost to paint both intersections was only $3,600.

And after all, if it’s good enough for Tempe...


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