Bright Green Bike Lanes Appear on Downtown Streets

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Bike lanes are painted green at the intersection of Main Street and Houston Street downtown.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Bike lanes are painted green at the downtown intersection of Main Avenue and Houston Street.

Bike lanes at the downtown intersection of Main Avenue and Houston Street in early May received a coat of green paint as part of an effort to enhance cyclists’ safety through the City of San Antonio’s 2012 bond. 

Main Avenue is one of 10 streets throughout the city featuring the markings, according to the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department. More green bike lanes can be found on Soledad Street, Roadrunner Way, Powhatan Drive, North and South Park Boulevard, North Flores Street, Commerce Street, Woodstone Drive, Frio City Road, and Iowa Street.

The green bike lanes are located at potential “conflict point intersections,” said TCI’s Chief Communications Officer Paul Berry, adding that conflict areas are mainly at intersections and where roads meets driveways. “[The bright green paint] raises automobile drivers’ and bicyclists’ awareness of the potential areas of conflict.”

The green lanes also encourage multimodal use of the street, he said, and send the message that roadways are not just for motorized vehicles.

The color makes it easier for drivers to see bicyclists on the roadway, Berry said. Certain intersections have large green rectangles – so-called “bike boxes” – that stretch across the entire right lane. Similar to the bike lanes, the boxes aim to give cyclists designated space and reduce crashes and confusion between vehicles attempting to turn and cyclists waiting to travel straight at an intersection.

“I think drivers take more notice when [the bike lanes] are highlighted on the road like that,” said Marty Guerrero, who regularly rides his bicycle downtown. “It puts more emphasis on cycling and the importance of keeping us safe.”

The first of the 10 green bike lanes were painted in 2014. The City used thermoplastic road-marking paint on the majority of the lanes, and water-based paint on one.

It costs the City $15 per square foot to paint the sections green. Unsure of how far the green lanes go on Main Avenue, Berry said it’s “very difficult” to estimate how many square feet of green bike lanes there are throughout San Antonio.

“Each street has different characteristics that determine how long the green marking stretches,” he said. “While some cities use the green for the entire length of a bike lane – which is extremely expensive – San Antonio uses a standard that establishes the green bike lane 40 feet before and after an intersection [conflict point], but there may be exceptions where there is a longer stretch of green markings.”

Olivia Youngblood, a cyclist who enjoys riding on the weekends, said she notices a lack of connectivity between bike lanes more than the green markings.

“The issue with San Antonio is that [bike lanes] are not very connected,” Youngblood said. “They’re just so spread out.”

Darlene Dorsey, a spokesperson for TCI, said while there is no special connection between bike lanes solely based on the presence of green markings, the department aims to connect new bikes lanes to existing ones wherever possible.

Berry said TCI will continue to add green markings “where there are areas of conflict,” which are often based on feedback from cyclists.

17 thoughts on “Bright Green Bike Lanes Appear on Downtown Streets

  1. Paint that can withstand bike and vehicle traffic probably isn’t cheap. But how in the world could it possibly cost $15 a square foot to purchase and install it?

    • In fact, it doesn’t look like it is holding-up that great… It’s only been a couple of weeks and the green color is different in some areas than in others. Looks like the “paint” is a bit thin.
      Perhaps there is a bit of a learning curve on the application by local contractors?

  2. This is a great project. Aside from the bike lines, it includes some bulbouts at intersections to make pedestrian crossings shorter, and other bulbout areas that have landscaping in them. A missed opportunity with the landscaped bulbouts is not including inlets and outlets for rain water to flow through and soak into the ground/clean the water etc, instead of polluted water flowing straight to the drain/river. Maybe next time. Good job overall.

  3. I was so so happy to see these green bike boxes put in, especially at Main and Commerce where a “right hook” can happen where a car turns over the the cyclist’s path and hits him/her. The green box, is a safer space for the cyclist in the bike lane to move themselves in front of the car briefly so they are seen and can make their path first and the threat of a hit goes way down. Bike lanes are definitely wonderful infrastructures to help move different kinds of traffic, but bike lanes aren’t magically safe spaces, so green boxes and lanes certainly help remind everyone of who is sharing the road but all parties have to always pay attention and be predictable and not swerve in and out. It is really hard to cyclists when you are boxed up in a car with blind spots. So we all gotta work together in keeping each other safe and not killing each other while trying to get where we need to go.

    I remember clearly when living in Portland Oregon when they started putting green boxes and lanes in after one year two cyclists were killed by trucks who ‘right hooked’ them by turning across the bike lane, when the cyclist was going straight. It was so very sad. I remember both cyclists were quite young, 20s. I’m glad San Antonio didn’t wait until someone died.

  4. ^ I should add a clarification. A cyclist should only move themselves in front of car/truck traffic into the “green box” when there is pause in traffic at a red light. This may seem obvious but the box makes it so the car must stop slightly short of the light, leaving cyclists a space to “be seen.”

  5. Are there rules for cyclists? Driving through town there are cyclists who cut through traffic causing dangerously close hits, go through red lights, and generally assume they have no responsibility to go with the traffic…much less stay in a bike lane.

    In my neighborhood, a bike ran into a parked car. The car owner called police and was told there is no liability on the bicyclist. He’s had to have it repaired.

    I totally appreciate how tricky it is to ride a bike or walk with cars, but at the same time suggest we start thinking about what the responsibility and liability is for bicyclists re. cars.

    • I work downtown and I constantly see bicyclists weaving in and out of traffic and running red lights. Its like they have no rules. Its only a matter of time before someone gets hit and hurt badly. I would like to see some educational news articles explaining what the traffic rules for bicyclists are and for the police to enforce them.

  6. So how will cyclists be contributing to these additions? I’m sick and tired of my roads not being fixed, but they will skim from the taxes collected that are SUPPOSED to be fixing my roads to do stuff like this. Nice idea, but I want to know how cyclists are going to be contributing.

    • Cyclists are contributing by being cyclists and thus reducing pollution which is a cost to the environment and city but never added in the cost section.

    • Nearly every cycling commuter is also a car owner. So they pay into the system just like you, but since they ride a bicycle they cause FAR LESS damage then you in a car. So in theory they are helping with your funding issue, not worsening it.

  7. I use these bike lanes to commute to work. It’s so much safer than before! So glad they were installed along with bike lanes in general.

  8. This is an important advance for San Antonio.
    The city leaders who made this happen are to be commended.
    San Antonio is under-recognized as a great bike friendly city.
    Thank you to everyone who made this happen.

  9. It’d be great if they would make some kind of bike Lanes or something safer on S. Presa from 410 coming into town or at least till you hit Steves St. Sometimes I commute from home to work on my bike and it’s kind of scary. Especially at night

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