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Is the city just slow or is green the new white bike stencil?

September 9, 2015
What I saw on July 21 (left) and what I expected the city to do (right).

What I saw on July 21 (left) and what I expected the city to do by now (right).

Back in July I asked, “Is Yukon Street getting “super sharrow” bike symbols?“.

I was guessing that the new lime green rectangles painted on the north lane of the three-block stretch of Yukon Street beside City Hall were works-in-progress. And I predicted that they would soon be overprinted with white bike stencils, to become so-called “super sharrows” — upgraded pavement markings to designate roadways shared with bicycles.

Well, two months later those lime green rectangles are still just lime green rectangles.

Not only have no reflective white bike stencils been added to turn them into super sharrows but all the old, pre-existing reflective white bike stencils have been erased — by either scrapping or taring.

There are still reflective white bike stencils along the northbound lane of Yukon Street, south of 12th and north of West Broadway Avenue but in the three blocks in between there is nothing but some green rectangles.

So as a cyclist who regularly uses it, I have to ask if the northbound lane of  Yukon Street between 12th and West Broadway Avenue is still a bicycle-friendly stretch of road? Because there is no longer any kind of recognized markings to indicate that it is!

Dawdling or innovating at the expense of safety

A green box and covered bike stencil Between 12th and 13th Avenue.

A green box and a covered bike stencil on Yukon, between 12th and 13th Avenue.

The City of Vancouver’s web page detailing cycling road signs and markings explains that green is the North American colour for cycling facilities and that green-painted pavement identifies locations for potential conflicts with vehicles, such as street- and driveway crossings [my emphasis].

That it is but I have never seen an entire lane of roadway designated as bike-friendly by widely-separated dashes of green paint alone. Even green-painted crossings generally have reflective white bike stencils in Vancouver — as do green curbside bike lanes and green bike boxes.

Reflective white bike stencils on pavement have been used for decades to alert motorists to expect and accept bicycles on the roadway. The use of green paint only came in as an additional measure to strengthen the message of the bike stencils, not to replace them.

Everywhere else that I go in Vancouver, pavement bike stencils are still the rule to designate shared roadway.

This three block stretch of Yukon Street is now an exception to this rule and looks like an experiment by the city to see if it can make do with just the easier-to-apply green paint.

Either that or the city is just not getting the job done.

Unfortunately, in the absence of reflective white bike stencils, I do not believe that this narrow stretch of Yukon Street does anything to alert drivers to expect bicycles on the roadway and as a cyclist, that makes me uncomfortable about riding on it. Click the images to enlarge them.

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