Exposing people to “strange” new pavement markings


Mark, a former Chicagoan, now Bostonian, posted this photo of a flyer he received in his “motor vehicle excise tax” bill (think of it like the annual city sticker, but much more costly). It describes and displays the new kinds of pavement markings that are showing up around Boston. It says, “New pavement markings for cyclists are cropping up around the city. Here’s what they mean for drivers.”

The two-sided flyer uses graphics from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide to show bike lanes, shared lanes, bike boxes, and cycle tracks. The opposite side thanks Bostonians for making Boston America’s safest city for walking and cycling. I didn’t know it was – I’d like to know more about this and which data source or metric they’re using.

A pamphlet in property tax bills and city sticker applications could be the start of a wider campaign to bring awareness to different street designs (which were put in place to make one or more transportation modes safer than before). The best bet for sustainable awareness raising is to start moving towards mobility education in schools and at the DMV.


The back side of the Boston flyer. 

I see particular confusion in Chicago about what to do with bike boxes. There are very few of them; the first appeared on Milwaukee Avenue and Kinzie Street. They weren’t even completely installed: the one at Kinzie and Wells Streets never received its bicycle symbol, and the one at Milwaukee Avenue at Kinzie Street is missing a huge strip. Drivers stand their cars in these bike boxes quite often.


The bike box with the never-installed bicycle symbol. 

Cities around the country, including Chicago, started experimenting with green bikeway treatments as a way to make bike lanes stand out more. They were first tested in Chicago at four or five locations with dedicated right or left turn lanes, in 2006. The Department of Transportation began an evaluation of them in 2009 but never completed the report. Evaluation is a key part of project implementation. Does it do what it was intended to do?


A driver stands her car on the bike box.

Lastly, and I’m not being sarcastic, people who drive in Chicago also have a healthy disrespect or ignorance of curbs. For examples, view the photoset, Exit The Roadway.

4 thoughts on “Exposing people to “strange” new pavement markings”

  1. I think that circulating a similar flyer here – with city sticker renewals and property tax bills – is one of our better options for reaching a large segment of the general public and educating them about new on-street bike facilities.  This wouldn’t reach everyone, but it would be a good start.

    1. I want to see billboards, like Metra has. That tell why cycling to work could be a better idea on some days than driving to work (or even taking transit!). 

      I was floating this idea around yesterday… “Dear Chicago, there’s no such thing as cyclists. It’s just a different way to get to work!”

      I think it would be a little controversial for people who consider themselves “cyclists”, but I’m trying to demonstrate that cycling doesn’t have to be a “lifestyle” – it’s just a mode of transportation.  

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