FHWA Says Green Pavement Works: And Now it’s Allowed

Green painted bike lane in Seattle, WA. Photo: Seattle DOT

On Friday, the Federal Highway Administration gave interim approval for the use of green pavement for bicycle lanes, stating:

Positive operational effects have been noted in the experiments, such as bicyclists positioning themselves more accurately as they travel across intersections and through conflict areas, and no notable negative operational effects have been observed. The research has also shown that bicyclists and motorists both have a positive impression of the effect of the green colored pavement, with bicyclists saying that they feel safer when the green colored pavement is present, and motorists saying that the green colored pavement gives them an increased awareness that bicyclists might be present and where those bicyclists are likely to be positioned within the traveled way.

This approval is excellent news–as is a stated rationale by FHWA that there are positive operational effects on both bicyclists and motorists.

In the past, the opposition to colored pavement has come nearly as often from aesthetic review agencies as DOTs.  This guidance clearly tells transportation planners and design engineers that green pavement is allowed, and gives notice to those aesthetic review entities that there is a real benefit to roadway safety.

Thus, in future planning discussions, bike advocates will be able to point to FHWA’s rationale and approval and ask aesthetic review entities either to rebut FHWA’s statement that green pavement has a positive operational effect, or to justify the elevation of aesthetic concerns over safety concerns on our roadways.