CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- Some drivers in downtown Cedar Rapids may wonder who spilled the green paint at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street S.E. But the color carries a message. It's a signal to drivers to stay out of the bicycle-only lanes.
Biking enthusiasts decided on a green lane marking, the first in Iowa, because in many larger cities it's become the standard color to signal to traffic this is a lane reserved for bicycles. The marking made on Wednesday morning is a test to see if drivers notice and if it improves the interaction of both drivers and cyclists.
When the city of Cedar Rapids painted bike lanes on major streets last fall, it caused some confusion. Drivers didn't know whether or not to cross the bike lanes when they wanted to turn. Bikers weren't sure if drivers understood cars weren't supposed to use the lanes.
Richard Mishler, a cyclist who was downtown Wednesday, said he thinks everybody will figure it out eventually.
“I think it will just take a little time since it's new. I think motorists after they get the swing of it will figure it out,” Mishler said.
That's the idea behind the green lane markings. If the first one gets noticed, supporters hope to paint more and longer sections green to highlight potential conflict areas between bikes and cars. And they'll also paint dashed green lines to show motorists where they can safely cross the bike lanes to make a turn at intersections
Brandon Whyte, a member of the Cedar Rapids Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, said he believes motorists will get the idea.
“That dotted line, it makes sense intuitively. You see the dotted line on a freeway you know you can merge into that,” Whyte said.
Volunteers painted the first lane marking with donated materials. If the “green” bike lane marking seems to work, the plan is to paint more areas green sometime later this summer. A $10,000 dollar grant, with more volunteer labor, will mean the project gets done without any taxpayer dollars.
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