Bike lanes are painted green at the intersection of Main Street and Houston Street downtown.
Bike lanes are painted green at the downtown intersection of Main Avenue and Houston Street. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Bike lanes at the downtown intersection of Main Avenue and Houston Street in early May received a coat of green paint as part of an effort to enhance cyclists’ safety through the City of San Antonio’s 2012 bond. 

Main Avenue is one of 10 streets throughout the city featuring the markings, according to the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department. More green bike lanes can be found on Soledad Street, Roadrunner Way, Powhatan Drive, North and South Park Boulevard, North Flores Street, Commerce Street, Woodstone Drive, Frio City Road, and Iowa Street.

The green bike lanes are located at potential “conflict point intersections,” said TCI’s Chief Communications Officer Paul Berry, adding that conflict areas are mainly at intersections and where roads meets driveways. “[The bright green paint] raises automobile drivers’ and bicyclists’ awareness of the potential areas of conflict.”

The green lanes also encourage multimodal use of the street, he said, and send the message that roadways are not just for motorized vehicles.

The color makes it easier for drivers to see bicyclists on the roadway, Berry said. Certain intersections have large green rectangles – so-called “bike boxes” – that stretch across the entire right lane. Similar to the bike lanes, the boxes aim to give cyclists designated space and reduce crashes and confusion between vehicles attempting to turn and cyclists waiting to travel straight at an intersection.

“I think drivers take more notice when [the bike lanes] are highlighted on the road like that,” said Marty Guerrero, who regularly rides his bicycle downtown. “It puts more emphasis on cycling and the importance of keeping us safe.”

The first of the 10 green bike lanes were painted in 2014. The City used thermoplastic road-marking paint on the majority of the lanes, and water-based paint on one.

It costs the City $15 per square foot to paint the sections green. Unsure of how far the green lanes go on Main Avenue, Berry said it’s “very difficult” to estimate how many square feet of green bike lanes there are throughout San Antonio.

“Each street has different characteristics that determine how long the green marking stretches,” he said. “While some cities use the green for the entire length of a bike lane – which is extremely expensive – San Antonio uses a standard that establishes the green bike lane 40 feet before and after an intersection [conflict point], but there may be exceptions where there is a longer stretch of green markings.”

Olivia Youngblood, a cyclist who enjoys riding on the weekends, said she notices a lack of connectivity between bike lanes more than the green markings.

“The issue with San Antonio is that [bike lanes] are not very connected,” Youngblood said. “They’re just so spread out.”

Darlene Dorsey, a spokesperson for TCI, said while there is no special connection between bike lanes solely based on the presence of green markings, the department aims to connect new bikes lanes to existing ones wherever possible.

Berry said TCI will continue to add green markings “where there are areas of conflict,” which are often based on feedback from cyclists.

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.