The government has been actively promoting the use of bicycles, kick scooters, and their electric-assisted versions in order to decongest public transport. Over the past year, the DOTr, DPWH, and local government units have been establishing exclusive bicycle lanes on many major roads in major cities in order to provide these commuters a safer space.
Lately, you might have noticed some of these lanes have a distinct color: green. There are also some odd patterns, like patches of green, solid green spaces, and possibly even dashed lines. These markings all mean something. Their meaning is not just something cyclists and kick scooter riders should learn, but all road users as well. Cycling advocacy group, The Bike Lane Project, first shared what these lane markings mean. We thought more people should know about it. As such, we’ve put together this handy guide to explain them.
There’s a lot of thought put into the design and markings of the bike lane. In fact, these markings are based on the recommendations of the National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO) of the US. It’s an association of 86 major north American cities and transit agencies that are working together to establish uniform transportation solutions. You’ll find bike lanes like these in cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Washington DC, and many more.
NACTO recommends green because it’s less likely to be confused with other standard traffic control markings. By painting these areas green, cyclists will learn to associate the color with safe spaces where they can cycle in. It will make the lanes easy to see at night, even in dimly lit areas. Also, all they have to keep track of are arrows, signs, and symbols within their lane or with a green background.
Solid white line borders
You’ll notice that these bicycle lanes have white lines on either side. Just like conventional road markings, white lines denote the edges of the road. In the cyclists' case, these are meant to show the cyclists and other motorists the limits of the bicycle lane. For cyclists, when the borders of the bicycle line are a solid white line, that means they cannot go outside and have to stay inside the designated bicycle lane. For motorcycle riders or cars, solid white lines mean they cannot enter the bicycle lane.
Dashed line borders
Just like conventional road markings, the solid and dashed white line borders have different meanings. For cyclists, when the borders are made up of a dashed white lines, it means the lane is no longer exclusive. Other vehicles may enter into the bicycle lane. You’ll usually find these dashed line borders near major intersections. This is so that other vehicles may move to the right most lane and turn right to exit the road. Vehicles entering the bicycle lane at this point must also be cautious. Cyclists should give way.
Broken green lane
Broken green lanes like these are meant to warn the cyclist that they are approaching an intersection. Once in this area, cyclists should slow down and be aware of their surroundings. With an intersection up ahead, there may be vehicles passing through the lane to get to the inner lanes, entering the lane to turn right, or crossing the intersection at a traffic light.
Solid green lane
These markings show up at intersections and driveways. When in this area, cyclists must be wary because vehicles will enter and exit the bicycle lane to get to establishments or intersections. They should leave room, stop, or move to let other road users (pedestrians or vehicles) pass if necessary. You’ll find these at intersections or where driveways meet the road. They’re put there to remind cyclists to be cautious and give way.
Bicycle lanes outside yellow box junction
Cycling advocacy group, The Bike Lane Project, says these markings are already present on Davao city roads. The name may not sound familiar, but a yellow box junction is a yellow box with a large X or several smaller X’s inside it. Motorists often get traffic violation tickets if they even put a single wheel inside the yellow box at a red light. This is because it’s a busy intersection and no vehicle is allowed to block the box area.
When it comes to cyclists, there are two kinds of box junctions they should look out for. If the bike lane is outside of the marked box junction, that means they’re at a “permissive straight.” This means ONLY CYCLISTS can cross the intersection with caution, even with a red traffic light on. This is because it’s not that dangerous to cross in their direction of travel. You'll usually find these at T intersections where there is no intersecting road on the bicycle lane's side. Still, if a traffic cop tells you to stop when approaching one of these, follow. Wait for his signal before proceeding.
Bicycle lanes inside yellow box junction
The second kind of yellow box junction is one that includes the bicycle lane. If the lines of the bicycle lane are inside the borders of the yellow box junction, that means cyclists HAVE TO FOLLOW the traffic lights. That means stop on red, go on green. No exceptions.
This symbol (bicycle logo with arrow on top) is called a sharrow (share + arrow), and it’s meant to indicate that this part of the bicycle lane is a shared roadway. That means, there is NO EXCLUSIVE BICYCLE LANE and cars may take up the right most lane if needed. Cyclists should be extra careful of these areas because vehicles are not obligated to keep the rightmost part of the road clear.
Bicycle stop box
This is a version of the motorcycle stop box employed by countries where motorcycles are the majority like Taiwan. The bicycle stop box is basically an area at an intersection where bicycles can stay while waiting for the light to turn green. If cyclists see these ahead, it means they can filter through stopped traffic and wait at the box. However, they have to follow the traffic lights and stop in bicycle box at a red traffic light. Other vehicles, like motorcycles and cars, should keep this area clear. Like the yellow box junction, they may get a ticket if caught inside this area. So far, we've only seen these in Quezon City, but they may be adopted by other cities as well.
Knowing the markings
That pretty much sums up all the markings you need to know about. Even if you don’t intend to take up cycling, it’s handy to know as they indicate where vehicles can temporarily enter and exit bicycle lanes without issue. Knowing this can be quite handy if you ever get pulled over by a traffic officer or get into an altercation with a cyclist.