Glow in the Dark Bike Lanes Come to America

Glow in the dark bike lane

Texas A&M Brings the U.S. It’s First Luminescent Bike Lane

In College Station, Texas, the intersection of Ross and Bizzell streets is a busy one. After class at Texas A&M University gets out, the intersection lights up with hundreds to thousands of students and faculty making their way through the intersection.

And, because the crossing is dominated by college students, the users of the intersection vary broadly from pedestrians on foot, to cyclists, to drivers. And it was causing problems, “Part of the issue is there’s a lot of turning traffic at that intersection, so vehicles were turning a lot in front of and across bicycles and pedestrians,” says Robert Brydia, senior research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “There was a lot of conflict and interaction at that point.”

So Brydia and his team decided to experiment. And they have now finished the United States’ first and only glow in the dark bike lane.

During the day, the lane is bright green, in line with People For Bikes’ Green Lanes Project, but thanks to a special paint in the green lanes, come nightfall, the lane stays illuminated. The paint works the same as would, say, a glow-in-the-dark basketball, by absorbing light from the sun and holding onto it to stay illuminated at night.

The newly redesigned intersection of Ross and Bizzell at Texas A&M University

The newly redesigned intersection of Ross and Bizzell at Texas A&M University

“It’s not an in-your-face blinding light,” says Brydia. “It’s supposed to be softly luminescent. It’s a glow, as opposed to a vibrant display of color.”

The concept originated in the Netherlands, where the town of Eindhoven commissioned a project to pay homage to its former resident, Vincent Van Gogh, and ended up with the objectively awesome ‘Starry Night’ bike lane.

Eindhoven's 'Starry Night' bike lane commemorating Vincent Van Gogh, designed by Daan Roosegaarde

Eindhoven’s ‘Starry Night’ bike lane commemorating Vincent Van Gogh, designed by Daan Roosegaarde

However, while the Dutch were after higher aesthetic, Texas A&M’s goals are purely safety. The newly designed intersection features no stoplight, replaced by islands in each of the corners. Motorists are forced to stop further back than in a normal crossing, which creates a buffer for pedestrians. The green markings serve to both guide cyclists along the safest route, as well as improve their visibility.

A flyer released by Texas A&M Transportation Services detailing the features of the newly redesigned Ross and Bizzell intersection

A flyer released by Texas A&M Transportation Services detailing the features of the newly redesigned Ross and Bizzell intersection

The Federal Highway Administration gave approval to the university for the project, but hopes are high that others will soon be allowed to follow suit, and that bike lanes around the country will soon all glow.

Heck, if Andy Warhol were still around, perhaps New York’s lanes would all become cans of Campbell’s soup.

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