Bike lanes go a different kind of green

A bike lane on South Lexington Avenue got fresh coat of green paint this week as part of an effort to enhance bicycle visibility and safety.

The one-block climbing lane between Aston Street and Patton Avenue is the first of several spots the city is pinpointing to try out a strategy recently approved by the Federal Highway Administration as a way to make downtown bike lanes more visible to motorized traffic.

Color-coded bike lanes are easier to see and identify through confusing traffic patterns and intersections, and studies have shown that color-coded bike lanes help increase drivers’ awareness of bicycles in the area. That means bicycle riders can feel even safer in downtown Asheville.

“A big part of getting people onto bicycles is making them feel comfortable traveling through city streets,” says Transportation Planner Barb Mee. “And the success of our bike plan rides on getting more people using our bike lane system.”

The section of Lexington Avenue was selected for the nature of its traffic and for the condition of its recently repaved surface. The project is still in a preliminary phase and the Transportation Department wanted to begin with the most sound surface it could find. The department will be testing different materials for durability, ease of application, cost, and most importantly, slip resistance.  From a materials standpoint, Mee says, this treatment could be an extremely cost effective way to give a big boost to downtown bicycle accessibility.

“Our hope is that it really does make cyclists more comfortable and lead to fewer misunderstandings by drivers,” Mee says.

Sustainable and multi-modal transportation remains a priority for the City of Asheville. In 2008, Asheville City Council approved a comprehensive bicycle plan. Since then, the City of Asheville has unveiled many new enhancements for bicycle accessibility including new bike lanes, downtown bike lockers, and a repair station in the River Arts District.  Click here to see more about the City of Asheville’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Services.