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Colorful Debate Over Green Paint Ends in Concord: We’re Getting It!

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: July 13, 2015


Plans for Concord’s first use of green paint will live to see another day.

Recap from Kenji Yamada, Bike Concord advocacy organizer: 

I’m happy to report that with the agreement of both Councilmembers on the committee, staff will be bringing a recommendation to the full Council on July 28 to award the contract for Detroit Ave with the full green paint treatment! Funding will probably come from Measure Q funds.

So many Bike Concord members turned out that the meeting had to be moved from the Garden Center Conference Room to the Council chamber. Staff and Councilmembers were receptive and responsive to our input, and we won the day. 

Monument Impact, Bike East Bay, and Bike Concord were humorously called “The Coalition” by Councilmember Hoffmeister in reference to our shared letter, which was distributed to attendees by City staff along with the meeting packet.


When the city of Concord first approved the Complete Streets project for Detroit Avenue, the use of green pavement markings was included as a bid alternate. 

We’ve just heard that the issue of whether or not to include green paving will go to the Infrastructure and Franchise Committee tonight. 

Read the staff report explaining the discussion here

Bike East Bay has sent a letter to city staff and elected officials asking that the green paving remain part of the final contract. Read the letter below.

What you can do:  

Come to tonight’s Infrastructure and Franchise Committee Meeting and ask Laura Hoffmeister, Chair, to direct staff to re-evaluate the cost of green paint on Detroit Ave and to make sure it gets included in the final contract award.

The meeting starts at 5:30pm in the Garden Center Conference Room in the city offices at 1950 Parkside Dr.

See our ask at the bottom of this letter: 

Letter to the I&F Committee and Staff

Monday, July 13, 2015

To: Laura Hoffmeister
Chair of the Infrastructure and Franchise Committee
Concord City Hall
1950 Parkside Drive
Concord, CA 94519

Re: Detroit Ave Bike and Ped Improvements

When the Detroit Ave complete street project was recently approved and funded for continuous buffered and green bike lanes, we were delighted – not only because Detroit Ave was going to become a much better street for bicycling and walking, but also because it would set an example for other neighboring cities, such as Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Orinda, on how to make streets safe for active transportation. We understand that removal of the green paving markings from the project is to be considered at Monday night’s Infrastructure and Franchise Committee meeting.

We believe retaining this element is imperative for a successful project outcome: a Detroit Ave which is safe for both bicycling and walking.


We would like to start off by outlining the importance of green paving as an important aspect of this street’s success. Safety, not aesthetics, is the primary purpose of the green paving.

The Federal Highway Administration’s recent Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide states that “green pavement increases awareness of bicyclists and can be used to indicate an area of potential conflict with motor vehicles”.

On safety specifically, the FHA’s guide says:

“All applications of the green pavement are associated with decreases in average annual total crashes. Green pavement only at conflict points was associated with the greatest decrease in average annual total crashes.” (Appendix C)

Although this report does not purport to be conclusive and it deals with separated bike lanes rather than regular bike lanes and sharrows, it does provide local planners the most recent safety data on green paving. We believe the FHA report obligates planners to provide reasons more important than safety for non-use of green paving in conflict zones.

In addition, the National Association of City Transportation Officials states that “Colored pavement within a bicycle lane increases the visibility of the facility, identifies potential areas of conflict, and reinforces priority to bicyclists in conflict areas and in areas with pressure for illegal parking. (…) Consistent application of color across a bikeway corridor is important to promote clear understanding for all users.”

Furthermore, the Complete Streets study published by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for the City of Concord recommended “a clearly demarcated Class II bicycle lane with green striping in the existing pathway that would help to alleviate confusion for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers” citing high volume traffic and speeds as safety concerns.

The Cal Poly states that at intersections, the design pattern of a bike lane should shift “from a stripe pattern where the bicycle lane is marked with green paving every 10-15 feet, to a solid green line. This is done to further increase bicyclist visibility near the intersection and to act as a traffic calming device.”

As safety relates to this specific project, Detroit Avenue connects many schools, daycare facilities, and jobs with local neighborhoods and housing. Residents, students, parents, and visitors who currently walk and bicycle on this street or would like to do so deserve to be able to do so safely.

This is Concord’s first major on-street bike facility, and like many bike facilities will put bicyclists, at times, in conflict zones with users of larger vehicles. The application of green paving is an important part of ensuring their safety and comfort on the road.

Community Input and Impact

We hope the committee takes into account the extensive public input that went into crafting this plan and the strong support from residents to bring a great bikeway to Detroit Avenue. Complete streets such as the planned Detroit Avenue have been proven to increase safety, increase physical activity, increase the value of homes and bring more business to the neighborhoods in which they have been installed.

The transportation issues of the Detroit Avenue community are documented in the Monument Corridor Community Based Transportation Plan, completed in 2006. The Plan notes that close to 18 percent of the monument community does not have access to a car, reinforcing the need for transportation choices. In addition, Detroit Avenue is home to Meadow Homes elementary, a school with close to 900 students (of which 73% of 5th graders ride a bike according to a 2013 CHKS survey), parks, day care centers, and more.


Great bikeways do not need to be expensive bikeways. The report to council states that “an additional $150,000 is necessary to fully fund the installation of green pavement markings, inclusive of construction, contingencies and inspection costs.”

We sought out a contractor who has done many of the green paving markings in Oakland, and who happens to also be a Concord resident. Pictured to the right is his work around Lake Merritt, which thousands of Oakland residents ride every day. According to the estimate he provided, for a new street that has just been repaved the application of green paving should cost no more than $4 to $6 per square foot.

Therefore the actual construction of this important safety element, with the potential to reduce collision and encourage ridership, should be expected to have a minimal impact on increasing – or reducing – the overall budget of a $2.2M project.

One suggestion to bridge the funding gap, if necessary, might be to look into the possibility of re-allocating the funding recently put towards the Oak Grove Road Improvement Project.

Regarding the possibility that using green paving on this project will set a precedent requiring the City to use green paving on all projects; that is not something we have seen manifested in other cities in the Bay Area, and we would prefer the city view green paving as a tool that Concord should be able to use when necessary, that is, where it will help save the lives of residents.


We acknowledge that this is the city of Concord’s first use of green pavement markings and that there may be some understandable hesitance about its application.

To accommodate budgetary concerns without sacrificing safety, we suggest that the plan be modified in the following way to reduce the overall square footage of green paving:

  • Remove planned green paving from single-family home driveways.
  • Keep all green paving markings in mixing zones, conflict zones, and at commercial or multi-family home driveways.

We believe this compromise is a maximally efficient use of limited funds, while still achieving the project’s goal of pedestrian and bicycle safety on Detroit Ave.

We ask that the Infrastructure and Franchise Committee direct staff to re-examine the cost of installing green paving markings on the Detroit bike lanes based on this reduced square footage, and based upon known construction costs of green paving with the ultimate goal of being able to include green paving in the final awarded contract.

We look forward to seeing this plan come to life in Concord, and to continuing our work with the City of Concord. Thank you for your vision and for your work making Concord a better place for everyone.

Cynthia Armour, Project Manager, Bike East Bay

Ana Villalobos, Healthy Community Manager, Monument Impact

Kenji Yamada, Advocacy Organizer, Bike Concord

Nati Flores, Civic Engagement Manager, Monument Impact

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