Over the course of a few meetings this spring, our members generated ideas for potential demonstration projects. Through a bit of board discussion and debate, and drawing on examples of what has been done in many other communities such as in Philadelphia, we settled on a project wherein we would use temporary green paint to highlight active transportation infrastructure such as bike lanes, sharrows, crosswalks and more. The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends using green paint to minimize confusion with other standard traffic control markings.
The goals of the “green paint project” were twofold: 1) to draw broader attention to this active infrastructure so that everyone (people cycling, walking, driving, etc.) could better understand what it is and how to interact with it, and 2) to test the feasibility of (pilot) green paint so as to examine whether or not it might be a worthwhile, long-term investment in our community.
Because the project requires that we install temporary green paint on public streets, we sought the input and approval from the City of Omaha. Unfortunately they were unwilling to support the project. Here is their explanation:
“The City recognizes the goals and objectives of the temporary green paint installation concept to denote bike lanes and other active transportation infrastructure. However, the City was not in support of the project because of a lack of funding to execute a permanent green paint solution. More specifically, the City indicated green chalk pilot treatments would serve a temporary purpose but would be ineffective unless future budgets were expanded to incorporate these ideas to make them fiscally sustainable.”
We respectfully disagree. It is exactly because the budget is tight that temporary projects make so much sense. We can test out ideas to make sure that resources are only used on the projects that bring about good results. Especially where trails intersect roads, what is the danger in using green paint to supplement the permanent white striping?
Allowing an assumed lack of funding for permanent changes to stop a pilot project implies the City has pre-determined that the outcome won’t be successful and justifiable from a cost/benefit analysis when compared to other projects. The reality is there are hundreds of examples from across the country where permanent green paint has been successfully deployed. Take a look at a few mock-ups we did below.
Ultimately we weren’t asking for funding from the City, either in the short or long term. We’re disappointed in the City’s response, but we’re also willing to forego the effort so as to continue building a professional and respectful relationship with the City of Omaha. That’s not to say, however, that someone else couldn’t take the project on in the future. It’s really nothing more than concrete chalk that will disappear after a good rainfall…rather than a permanent green shamrock leading toward the front door of a bar.