Green boxes at intersections create safe space for bikes

By Maryam Roberts on July 16, 2018

You can’t miss Concord’s latest bicycle lane improvement project. Just look for the green bike lanes and bike boxes.

The bright green color is the standard for bicycle lanes and boxes, indicating a lane of travel and safe space for bikes.

Bike boxes are new to Concord, and there’s been some buzz in the community and online – both pro and con. Bike boxes allow a safe and highly visible space in front of waiting traffic during a red light. Bicyclists wait in the bike box to make a left turn or to go straight through an intersection.

The green box also triggers the traffic light by the weight of a bicycle. If you’ve ever been a cyclist at an intersection without such sensors, you know how frustrating it can be to wait for a car to trigger the green light or to maneuver over to press the pedestrian signal button on the sidewalk.

When cyclists are inside the bike box, they are allowed to move forward through the intersection ahead of traffic once the light turns green. Drivers are required to wait behind the white line at the rear of the bike box and are not allowed to make a right turn during a red light.

When drivers comply, bike boxes give the cyclist time to get through the intersection by giving them a head start.

When driving, be sure to stop behind the green paint. Look over your right shoulder for cyclists and pedestrians before turning right.

Intersections are one of the most dangerous places for cyclists and cars alike. One of the most common car-bicycle collisions is called the “right hook,” when a driver turns right and hits a bicyclist traveling forward through an intersection. Bike boxes allow cyclists to position themselves visibly in front of car traffic to avoid that risk.

There are three green bike box locations downtown: Grant Street at Willow Pass Road, Grant Street at Concord Boulevard and Grant Street at Clayton Road. The project used grants solely intended for active transportation projects and has nothing to do with the road maintenance and resurfacing budget.

We appreciate the city’s work to build bike routes, and we look forward to expanding the network of safe transportation for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles to move through the city together.

The official policy of the Transportation Element of the city’s General Plan is to “prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety over vehicle speed and level-of-service at intersections and along roadways.”

It’s important that the safe use of the streets be prioritized, and then traffic flow (level-of-service) can be considered. More bikes on the road mean fewer cars, less traffic, fewer potholes, less pollution and less stress in our community.

Maryam Roberts is a volunteer with Bike Concord. Send comments to maryam@bikeconcord.org.

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