Design and Build Horizontal markings

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Road markings play an important part in cycle highway’s readability and safety. They help cyclists follow the route, especially in poor visibility conditions, improve the recognisability of cycle infrastructure for other users, and can also warn against obstacles.

Median markings

Median markings on bidirectional cycle paths help the cyclists follow the route and clearly see the direction in which the cycle path is heading (see also infrastructural aspect of readability). It serves as delimitation between lanes allocated for both directions.  If the visibility of the route ahead is limited, median marking can reduce the risk of head-on crash. They can also help the other road users to recognise that this is a cycle path.

The frequency and density of the median marking varies between countries. It can also be used – in a way similar to median markings on a carriageway – as a way of communicating simple messages to the users. Rare strips (for example 30 cm every 3 m) denote straight sections with good visibility and no obstacles. When extra attention is needed (because of incoming curve, obstacle or crossing), strips can become longer, more common or turn into a continuous line.

Median road marking can also warn the bicyclists against bollards that protect the cycle path from becoming a parking place or a shortcut for cars. In the Netherlands, wide blue median lines are also tested on and near bicycle crossings, as a way to improve the recognisability of the crossing.

Edge markings 

Edge markings help to recognise the verge of a rideable surface.  In night-time, the colours are not as clearly recognisable and the asphalt or concrete pavement might be quite similar to the grass next to it.  The problem is less severe if the surface has a brighter shade, but nevertheless clear white edge markings can prevent cyclists from running off the road (and losing control of the bicycle after entering the uneven surface). This is particularly useful in curves.

If the cycle path runs next to a wall or is delimited with a high kerb, edge markings can be used to indicate the space, where bicycles can ride safely without the risk of hitting the wall or kerb with the handlebar or pedal. Similarly, if the cycle path runs directly adjacent to the carriageway, the markings can create a buffer zone, which cyclist should avoid in order to not get hit, for example by a car mirror.

The importance of thin white lines

Road markings on cycle highways are particularly important:

  • on bidirectional cycling paths.
  • in late autumn, when days are short, and it might be dark during commuting hours: edge markings can enhance visibility of road alignment even more than adding lighting.
  • for older people, who often do not have as good peripheral vision or contrast sensitivity.
  • in significant cycle traffic: riding behind someone one might not be able to have a clear picture of the situation ahead.

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