— We also need to talk about surface type and quality, not just colour.
COMMENT & ANALYSIS: When the question is asked: What colour should cycle paths be, there’s often mixed views and a few people always say forget about the colour and focus on segregation.
There’s one day left to vote in this Twitter poll from Robert Burns, Director of Infrastructure and Climate Change at Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council:
Different colours are used to differentiate cycle lanes in various parts of the world. Segregation of cycle lanes is of course more important in terms of safety than painting, but coloured lanes do help with legibility. Which colour do you prefer?
— Robert Burns (@robertburns73) June 7, 2021
What are the different approaches now?
Denmark: Blue paint across major junctions and other conflict points.
Netherlands: Colouring at junctions is now seen as the minimum in the Netherlands. Best practice followed by the more cycling-friendly Dutch councils is for a red asphalt on their cycle network. Red asphalt is key here — it’s not a surface treatment, it is final layer of surface.
The colour is used to flow along cycle paths, bicycle streets etc, giving clarity and consistency — it’s not just for segregated areas. It can be used to signify a low-traffic street is a bicycle street or part of a cycle route. Also of note is that this is not a mandtory requirement at a national level, so, there are variations.
Ireland: Mostly red resin bound surfacing. Often dog rough and only at junctions — a lot of what was applied to surfaces in cities and towns around Ireland was so poorly done or not maintained that it has given red surfacing a bad name (when these issues can happen with any colour).
UK: Much like Ireland a mix of different treatments, including no colouring on some of the best routes.
A few questions and observations:
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- Do we need to pick a cycle path colour, any colour, and stick with it, nationally?
- Do we need to start talking less about colour and more machine-laid asphalt rather than lower-quality tarmac?
- If there are different colours at junctions in different places, does that diminish any possable safety of colouring at junctions?
- If routes are blacktop and colouring put at junctions with resin bound surfacing, how do we insure quality?
- Are buff surfaces fine for quick-build routes while not for permanent routes?
- If buff is allowed on some routes, should there be red at junctions?
- Is it confusing that buff colour is used for anti-skid surfacing on major roads, footpath buildouts and pedestrian streets, and also cycle paths?
A concept example of red surfacing throughout a cycle route in an Irish context with red cycle path flowing into a red bicycle street / low traffic street where cars are allowed for access, but it’s clear it’s part of the cycle route:
Section 1. Update junction at Greenfields, add cycle tracks to Rosbrien Rd to connect to Punch's Cross. Connect to Oakview/Ballinacurra Gardens to allow a connection with Portland Park cycle track which can later connect with Dooradoyle. pic.twitter.com/2KnH934CPs
— Limerick Cycle Design (@LkCycleDesign) November 3, 2020