The Bike Blog is excited to announce that LADOT will soon be implementing a green bike lane pilot project, right here in the City of Los Angeles. Jurisdictions around the country and around the world have been experimenting with colored pavement as a treatment that visually enhances the separation of bike lanes from vehicle travel lanes. Join us below the fold to find out what’s good about green bike lanes, the process behind getting them, and where you will soon be able to ride L.A.’s first example.
What’s good about green bike lanes?
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) studies have shown that green bike lanes improve bicyclist positioning as they travel across intersections (and other conflict areas). FHWA has also found that both motorists and bicyclists have a favorable impression of green colored bike lanes. Bicyclists felt safer while riding green bike lanes, while motorists felt that green bike lanes helped increase their awareness of bicycles in the area.
How do we get Green Colored Bike Lanes?
According to FHWA, any treatment intended to regulate, warn, or guide traffic (motorists and bicyclists) that serves more than just an aesthetic purpose is considered a traffic control device. Traffic control devices are regulated at the federal level by FHWA and are codified in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The State of California also has its own CA MUTCD, which is overseen by Caltrans and the California Traffic Control Devices Committee (CTCDC). Both MUTCD’s are responsible for defining the standards used to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public and private roads (open to public traffic). Basically, anything not in the CA MUTCD is considered not approved for use on our roadways. New treatments – like green bike lanes – can be tested by local jurisdictions only after they receive FHWA and CTCDC approval.
As recently reported by the LACBC, FHWA has recently granted Interim Approval to states for the optional use of green bike lanes as a traffic control device. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has requested to participate in this Interim Approval. As a condition, jurisdictions – including us here at LADOT – within the state will have to notify Caltrans before proceeding with green bike lane projects. Caltrans has to maintain an inventory of green bike lanes per federal regulations.
1st Street (1.6 miles between Boyle Ave and Lorena St.)
L.A.’s first green bike lanes will be installed on the newly minted 1st Street bike lanes between Boyle Ave. and Lorena St.. The department is committed to installing green coloring that is not only visibly green, but durable and (perhaps most importantly) skid/slip resistant. On a recent site visit to 1st, we noticed that a few bicyclists were reluctant to use the new lanes, choosing instead to ride on the sidewalk. We hope that with the new green bike lanes, those bicyclists will feel more comfortable and confident riding on the street.
So where would you guys like to see green bike lanes in the future? How do you think we should prioritize the “greening” of bike lanes? Should they be along transit lines, commercial districts, wide boulevards, or only in conflict areas? Be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts below.