Paint the lanes green: Safer riding – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Paint the lanes green: Safer riding

Written March 11th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

The bike lane at an intersection of Lozier Lane in Medford.

Albany is pretty safe for bicyclists, generally speaking, but it hasn’t yet adopted a simple way of marking bike lanes, an approach that might make the town safer yet.

Riding around Medford, I came across green paint on bike lanes on a relatively new street. What’s with the paint, I  wondered, besides looking decorative? Turns out it effectively reminds drivers to stay out of those lanes, especially when people on bikes are present.

In a transportation-related report for the city of Bend, there’s this explanation: “Green color is now reserved for bicycle facilities by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The purpose is to increase visibility of a conflict area to improve safety and operations through the conflict zone. Solid color is usually reserved to highlight the position of the bike facility while dashed color is used through the conflict zone itself or as guidance through larger intersections.” (The report cites reductions in collisions as a result of the green paint.)

“Conflict zones.” That includes intersections where vehicles go around corners.

The term also covers curved segments where drivers typically edge across the fog line or into the bike lane in order to smooth out their turn. On many Albany roadways, this habit has pretty much erased the white line on right-hand curves. If the space to the right of the line was painted bright green, perhaps drivers would be more inclined to drive around the curve instead of through it.

Green paint would not have prevented the death of a bike rider just outside the Albany city limits in February 2015. And it would not prevent other crashes in which a driver completely loses control because of speed or inattention. But it would do some good in routine traffic around town.

Albany has a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission. If they’ve talked about adding green paint to the busier bike lanes around the city, I’m not aware of it. They should consider it, though. Using paint in this way might make drivers and cyclists more aware and courteous in traffic than most them already are. (hh)

Green paint protects the bike lane in a right-hand curve.

Another helpful thing in Medford: Where the street narrows, bikes may use the full lane.


12 responses to “Paint the lanes green: Safer riding”

  1. Terry says:

    Actually a great idea. And stay in the green if on a bike.

  2. HowlingCicada says:

    “Riding around Medford …” Have you ridden the Bear Creek Greenway? Do you like it?

    I’ve never been there, but followed it as best I could on Google Maps and Street View all the way from Ashland to Central Point. It seems to have a bit of everything from semi-idyllic creekside to unpleasant-looking close encounters with I-5 and Hwy 99, even a stretch underneath the freeway. Almost no grade crossings; lots of bridges and underpasses. Much of it manages to veer away from roads.

    My guess is that it’s intended more for recreation than commuting, in part because it’s apparently closed between 10pm and 6am (barely dark in June because of DST/Night Losing Time;-).

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Yes, it’s a great trail, and I have ridden it from Ashland to Central Point and for shorter stretches in between. The segments along I-5 are no big deal. They’re not that long.

  3. tom cordier says:

    Green goes well with yellow paint on all the bulbouts. Please support the yellow too so they can be seen by everyone.

  4. Craig Lalley says:

    I really enjoy your reporting, thank you. The green paint would help but right now a street sweeper would be more helpful, especially along and near Oak Creek School, Gibson Hill and North Albany, I got a flat on 20/ between Albany and Corvallis around Takena Park from all the debris.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Between Albany and Corvallis, on 20? The street sweeper doesn’t go on highways outside the city limits. It does sweep around Takena Park, in West Albany, on a regular schedule.

      • Barry Hoffman says:

        I think he means Takena Landing.

        • Craig says:

          I mean ANYWHERE in North Albany. Go ahead try riding and staying in the bike lane. Try riding to North Albany middle school. Take Gibson hill, NOT on a mountain bike, but a road bike (3 flats this week). Like a kid, and remember, don’t cross that white line! Take that pot hole that goes across the entire bike path! Suck it up and share the road, like a good bike rider.

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        The city doesn’t sweep state roads either, such as Pacific Blvd & Santiam, even if they are in the city.

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    Actually, stay in the bike lane even if it isn’t painted green. I have often seen bicyclists riding two and three abreast with two of them in the traffic lane. Also, the white line separating the bike and traffic lanes is that, not a line for bicyclists to ride on.
    I don’t mind sharing the road and do my bet to accommodate cyclists. How about some courtesy in reverse?

    • Craig says:

      @Richard, sometimes finding a safe path amongst the debris and glass can force riders on the line and out of the lane. Remain cautious at all times.

    • centrist says:

      Ahh the concept of sharing a public way.
      My poster child memory —
      On a scenic drive outside Sisters and stumbled into a bicycle event. Parkwd where the Staff told us. The group pedals by, then BAMMM on the roof! Water bottle scarred the paint.
      2nd memory — LD riders consider “outsiders” as a minor species.
      I’ll give you the right of way, butphysics always wins. Chutzhpah means zilch


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