Monday, August 1, 2011

SFMTA Addressing Green Bike Lane Safety Issues

SFMTA engineers don't understand oil-based paint's light-refractive properties
 Last month, BeyondSF reported on something no one else wanted talk about; about how the experimental nature of this type of surface treatment on our streets could lead to unforeseen safety issues. The unforeseen (?) light-refractive properties of the green paint, along with it's slick finish have become a problem for both bicyclists and motorcyclists in San Francisco.
 We reported that during the late afternoon and early morning hours, "[I]n many different locations approaching the intersection, and especially at dusk, these green safety boxes appear to disappear from sight."  Apparently, the engineers at DPW don't understand the properties of oil-based paint.
 Having a construction management background, I understand that the amounts of reflection and lateral slippage should always be taken into account when installing paint on a horizontal surface, especially within a public right-of-way.  Similar mistakes were made when installing those yellow, rubber staging pads at busier San Francisco crosswalks.  These pads are slippery even when dry and pose a hazard for wheelchair operators and pedestrians when wet.
  A San Francisco Examiner article this morning Paul Rose, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, talks about how the SFMTA will now be using green paint containing, "...[G]ranular sand mix that makes the paint less slick for bikes. The new mixture of paint will be used now every time the SFMTA puts down painted bike lanes." Rose ensures that the SFMTA plan to mix asphalt and paint and repave the green bike lanes will happen, but notes that this procedure is expensive, and that the agency has still not secured funding for the project. The new sand-mixed coating will only cost about $100.
  I will continue to lobby local officials for changing the color of the bike lanes from green to a soothing orange color.  This color is more pleasing to the eye, more visible from sharp angles and during dusk and dawn hours, and shows less staining and fading.  In addition, it gives bicyclists their own color designation.  Road signage and interstates use green for motorists, why not change the bike lanes, signals, and signage to orange.  This way, locals and visitors alike will have an easier time following designated bicycle routes if all signage is coordinated.

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