New green bike lane markings make cyclists more visible on road

Editor's note: Today's column was contributed by Amelia Conlen, director of People Power, a nonprofit that advocates for cycling safety and facilities in Santa Cruz County. Learn more about People Power at http://www.peoplepowersc.org/. Contact Conlen at (831) 425-0665 or director@peoplepowersc.org. Your eyes are not deceiving you – green pavement markings in bike lanes have been installed at intersections on Laurel Street in Santa Cruz as well as in the Soquel Village. The green markings, a thermoplastic coating applied to the roadway, is a technique used across the country to highlight the path of people on bikes. The purpose is to make cyclists more visible and let drivers know where to expect people on bikes. This is especially useful in “conflict zones,” places where traffic lanes and bike lanes cross. Laurel Street has a high rate of recorded bicycle crashes, the reason it was selected for the city’s first green pavement markings. Many of these collisions occur when drivers turn from Laurel onto Blackburn, Felix or Walti Streets without checking for cyclists who may be coming quickly down the Laurel Street hill. The green pavement markings are meant to serve as a visual reminder to check for people on bikes. The new green pavement markings don’t change the rules of the road. Drivers are legally required to yield to cyclists before entering the bike lane, and should signal and check their mirrors to make sure the bike lane is clear before turning. Cyclists are required to stay in the bike lane unless it is unsafe to do so. They are legally allowed to leave the bike lane when passing another cyclist, if there is debris or glass in the bike lane, or if they’re in the danger zone of opening doors from parked cars. Cyclists should come to a complete stop at all stop signs and stoplights, and use their hand signals before turning. It’s also a good idea to give cars extra space when going through an intersection and be on the lookout for drivers making unexpected right turns. People Power is thrilled to see green pavement markings in bike lanes in Santa Cruz County. Our goal is for everyone to feel safe riding a bike. If we can encourage cycling for short trips, we can reduce traffic, improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, give our kids opportunities for healthy exercise, save money -- the list goes on and on. We applaud the Santa Cruz City Council and Public Works Department as well as Supervisor John Leopold and County Public Works for making these new green treatments happen. This is one small step towards creating a bike-friendly community.
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