Pittsburgh tests green paint for Liberty Avenue bike lanes

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Pittsburgh has joined a growing list of cities using bright green paint to make on-street bike lanes more visible.

The city last week painted about 200 feet of the bike lanes on Liberty Avenue at the approaches to the Bloomfield Bridge, with the help of a $23,000 grant from Bikes Belong, a national organization of bicycle suppliers and retailers.

"That's our first green bike lane," said Stephen Patchan, the city's bike-pedestrian coordinator, who said the location was selected because of the large numbers of vehicles that make turns across the bike lanes.

"It's a material that is slip-resistant, and it will last longer" than the paint used for road striping, he said.

Other cities, including Philadelphia, have used green paint to mark bike lanes, and the Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA, has given interim approval for its use in areas where bicyclists and traffic have conflicting movements.

The federal agency approved several experiments with the paint over the past several years and reported in 2011 that the results were satisfactory. Bicyclists tended to position themselves better as they crossed through intersections, and drivers were more aware of the lanes.

Research showed "that bicyclists and motorists both have a positive impression of the effect of the green-colored pavement, with bicyclists saying that they feel safer when the green-colored pavement is present, and motorists saying that the green-colored pavement gives them an increased awareness that bicyclists might be present," according to an FHWA memo.

Mr. Patchan said he hopes to get feedback from the bicycling community and from Bloomfield and Lawrenceville residents before moving forward with painting other bike lanes around the city.

"The intent of this was to try it out and see what the impact is," he said.

The organization Bike Pittsburgh heralded the improvement on its website, saying the intersection of Liberty Avenue, the Bloomfield Bridge and Main Street has "on-ramps ... designed like they are for a highway, encouraging drivers to speed into them. Not surprisingly, conflicts arise when people need to bike and walk across the intersection."

Not everyone likes the idea.

The Los Angeles Times reported recently that film location scouts were complaining about a green lane added to a section of downtown street that was popular for shooting movie scenes.

The film people complained that the bright green would be a distraction to viewers and that they could no longer shoot period movies on the street.

neigh_city - Transportation

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.


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