I'd like to see colored bike lanes in my community. What color should we use and what impact with they have?

Many European countries use colored bike lanes to demarcate space for bicyclists and to draw motorists' attention to the bike lanes. The Danes use blue, the Dutch use red, the British use red or green, and the French use green. Cities in the United States recently began to experiment with different colors and textures, but it is important to note that none have yet been approved for inclusion in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

The most notable experiment with colored bike lanes has been in Portland, OR, where they striped critical conflict points (usually heavy right turning traffic crossing the path of straight-ahead bicyclists) with blue markings and appropriate signing. The markings reduced conflicts, increased the percentage of motorists yielding to bicyclists, and increased understanding of the intersection for both motorists and bicyclists. The one concern was that cyclists were less likely to look behind them to scan for vehicles. See Portland Transportation's follow-up study "Portland Blue Bike Lanes: Improved Safety through Enhanced Visibility" for more information.

Another study looked at the impact of shoulders added to a roadway in Florida. The shoulders were colored with red asphalt. Other communities that have tested various colors include Arlington, VA, and Cambridge, MA. Additionally, the Oregon bicycle plan identifies the ways in which color may be added to a bike lane.

We have more information about bicycle lanes and other bicycle and pedestrian facilities in our Engineering section.