I had a bit of a treat riding to work today: new paint for the bike lanes on Summit Avenue. Summit is the main east-west bike route west of downtown Saint Paul, extending from the top of the hill near the cathedral to the Mississippi. It is quite well-used, both by recreational cyclists and commuters, and is straight, relatively flat and in decent shape.
The lane markings weren't disappearing completely (although notice the rather invisible bike stencil, which has not been repainted), but they were getting dull. I wish I had had my camera when they had painted only one of the lines anew; still, the new markings are very noticeable. And I believe it makes a difference. Drivers are more likely to notice the bike lanes, and more likely to look for cyclists; thus, cyclists are more likely to feel safe as they bike. And since a local cyclist was hit—and I saw him down moments later and am still surprised he was not badly hurt—when riding in one of these lanes by a turning vehicle, the more visibility, the better. In other words, well-painted lines will help drivers to look twice for bikes.
Now if they would only plow the lanes properly in the winter, and not let them become an icy mess.
[We'll have a long post regarding segregated bike lanes soon]