Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Green Bike Box Gets Its White Stencil At Last

On Scott at Oak Streets, 3 pm Dec. 5th

Wiggle into the green box

Proper use of bike box - and in heels too.

The green city truck on the green bike box; maybe a sign would help

This morning the first-in-the-state green bike box on Scott Street at Oak was stenciled with its long-awaited bicyclist icon. Now it's really a green bike box, one that gives cyclists and motorists a visual cue that this space is reserved for bikes at a red light.

With much touting of our green city status, the Mayor and three members of the Board of Supervisors hailed the partial lifting of the bicycle injunction that allowed the bike box to be painted green on December 3rd as reported here. Several officials and bike advocates helped roll the green on Scott Street. A happy parade of cyclists rode up to the box, stopped there for the light, and then continued north on Scott in the new center-of-the-block bike lane.

And then everyone waited for the bike stencil to be added. Without a cyclist painted in the box it was simply a bright green painted spot in the street that might mean something to motorists and cyclists. Or not. The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) issued little response and no public explanation for the incomplete job thus encouraging talk that traffic engineers were worried about the bike injunction still or concerned that the state had not officially ratified the experimental use of bike boxes. How much easier if the MTA had simply responded as they did today that the engineers chose to conduct a mini observational study of street users to see who did what with the box. (Of course, the previous box was just gray asphalt with white stripes around it AND a white stenciled cyclist in the box, so why the study? Streetsblog, with Michael Rhodes reporting, published the story Monday about the MTA study.

According to the MTA, half of the motorists stopping at the signal rolled into the bike box during four one-hour evening peak periods in December. As for bicyclists, 55% used the box while 30% waited to the side in the crosswalk. With that data, MTA decided to call in the stencil crew.

The bike box would likely work much better for cyclists and motorists if San Francisco followed Portland's example and painted a green lane from the box to the start of the bike lane across Oak Street. And then a few signs to motorists and cyclists would complete the job. But for now it's good to be green with a white cyclist stenciled on top.

1 comment:

  1. I have a coworker who is color blind. He claims he cannot differentiate green from other colors so what he sees is gray. And without the bicycle stencil, he wouldn't have likely noticed the box.

    ~ Nate in the Seattle area