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Are Bikelanes with Wider Lines Safer?

BikingToronto member (and photographer featured frequently on the Photo of the Day) Xander N’Dante asks a good question via some Flickr uploads today:

“Since paint is cheap – can we make bikelanes safer by marking the lines thicker and in different colours?”

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  • Yes, as a behaviouralist, and as a former administrator of a Section 19 classroom with the Etobicoke School Board, and as a current Developmental Services Worker working with dual diagnosed individuals, the answer is clear to me, anything that provides a clearer message is more likely to get the desired result. If you asked the question would 3 cm wide stops signs be as effective as the current size people would respond with a resounding no. Is it easier to see the elephant or chetah on the savannah? It seems to me the criteria for effectiveness is never really measured, i.e. accidents you prevent are not reported so the only answer you have is fewer reported accidents. If you were able to track the number of times people did not veere into or reported seeing the line and avoided intersecting the cyclist, now that’d be a statistic worth knowing, and then you’d have a 2X as strong argument, reduced reports and increased awareness and avoidance.

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  • John

    First, it’s not only paint. It’s generally thermoplastic, which is more expensive than paint. Nevertheless, it’s still pretty cheap as far as infrastructure improvements go.

    Second, I’m not sure there’s a visibility problem with the existing 6″ or 8″ lines. So we’d be spending more money to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Are cars habitually swerving into the bike lane in Toronto or something?

    Third, if wider lines encourage cyclists to ride closer to the door zone of the parked cars, it might actually be less safe.

  • Good point about the thermoplastic, John… that is what newer Toronto bikelanes are marked with. Our older ones are still paint… and honestly are wearing out and should be re-done with thermoplastic.

    Most of our lane markings are only about 3 inches wide (like a regular road marking line). 6-8 inches would be great!

  • B. Ross Ashley

    Paint or thermoplastic, how slippery is it in the rain??? I’ve gone down on paintlines.

  • Good question B. Ross.

    Anyone know? I haven’t wiped out on either… but they both *look* slippery.


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