The use of color in bike lanes in Portland has been a welcome addition to our bike network, but you don’t have to ride very far before you see the problem with using a layer of colored plastic (otherwise known as thermoplast or thermo-plastic) that is applied with intense heat to stick to the road surface. Depending on wear and tear from vehicles and weather, it may not last a year before needing to apply a new layer. The costs for thermoplastic are not insignificant.
In other lands, like the Netherlands, they actually use colored blacktop/concrete to get the job done. The result is a smoother ride that lasts for many years. Portland would save money on material and labor costs by not having to come back and apply color after paving, or years later to re-stripe.
Years back at a Traffic & Transportation class presentation, PBOT Director Tom Miller (then Mayor Adams’ chief-of-staff) mentioned there were hurdles to implementing this type of approach in the United States. I am curious if anyone knows if this is a MUTCD compliance issue, or if there just aren’t contractors and materials available locally to make it happen. I’d welcome any thoughts on using colored pavement and ditching colored thermoplastic in Portland.
Further reading: Using Color in Bike Infrastructure