In the past few weeks, we have begun to notice fresh pavement markings all around Comox.
With the shorter and wetter days of fall coming soon, we will all be a little safer due to the efforts of the Town of Comox. The last thing any of us wants is a collision involving a motorized vehicle and a cyclist.
Two of the factors that greatly affect safety are the visibility and predictability of all us using the roadways.
As cyclists, it is our responsibility to be clearly visible through proper clothing and adequate lighting and reflectivity. In addition, our movements and intentions need to be clear to the motorized traffic that is passing us.
To these ends, the efforts of city workers are greatly appreciated. Having clear cycle lane markings, especially in the darker months, is most important. It makes our path much easier to predict for the other vehicles on the roads.
To this end, the new green lanes in Comox are a really important step forward.
The green cycle lane markings are quickly becoming the standard in North America. The first implantation of these lanes is in situations involving potential conflict areas for cyclists and motorists.
In a situation where vehicles have the option of continuing straight ahead or using a right turning lane, the potential for serious conflict exists. Often, less-experienced cyclists who intend to continue straight along a road are unsure of how to deal with the right-hand turning lane.
Knowing that the Motor Vehicle Act directs them to stay as close to the right-hand side of the side of the road as safety allows, they will stay to the right on the turn lane and then attempt to cut back in to continue going straight ahead. Motorists meanwhile may try to stay clear of the cyclist by accelerating around the turn.
The green cycle lane specifies the path that the cyclist is to take and indicates to motorists that they must yield to cyclists on this path. The reflective green path alerts everyone to be cautious and gives predictability to the expected movements for all users.
While it may seem like a simple solution requiring just slapping down some green paint, this is far from the case. As some of us have found out the hard way, painted lines in wet weather or in freezing conditions can be very slippery. This danger is increased for cyclists and motorcyclists.
Consequently, the surface must have adequate skid resistance. Additionally, it needs to be quite durable due to the volume of traffic crossing it.
Since it is both disruptive and labour intensive to reapply any road markings, it is particularly critical to have high durability.
The lane marking used on Comox Avenue came as a thermoplastic epoxy-modified acrylic roll. It is several millimetres thick and is torched into the existing pavement.
The material comes impregnated with glass beads to enhance reflectivity. It lasts six to eight times longer than normal painted pavement markings and can be applied under most weather conditions.
Thank you, Comox, for helping to make the roads safer for all of us.
Krista Kaptein usually writes Shifting Gears with contributions from fellow Comox Valley cycling coalition members — this month by James Taylor. The column appears every fourth week.