This past fall at Texas A&M University, glow-in-the-dark markings were used on the green bike lanes at an unsignalized intersection. The intersection chosen was a Dutch junction which protects cyclists from motorists at the intersection and increases the visibility of cyclists during turning maneuvers. This type of markings can enhance the safety and usability of bike infrastructure. The technology is based on phosphors, a material which is used in glow sticks, televisions, and computer screens.
Photo Source: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Similarly, in Lidzbark Warminski, Poland, the same technology was used to illuminate a separated bike and pedestrian path. The 330 foot-long, 12 foot-wide path was illuminated to create a bike lane and a pedestrian lane. The city plans on using this stretch as a pilot study.
Photo Source: Strabag
While there are many ways to light a bike lane, there are several advantages to this method. This technology can provide continuous lighting relative to street lights, reduced light pollution for surrounding homes, ability to light paths in remote locations without electrical service, and the use of renewable energy reducing potential climate change impacts.
Both of these projects are pilot studies and are primarily focused on testing how long the product will last under the wear and tear of cyclists and weather. Texas A&M has only installed the glow-in-the-dark markings at one intersection on campus and the stretch illuminated in Poland is limited to just 330 feet. This technology is very new and has limitations for wide spread use due to cost. In Massachusetts where winter months can result in additional stress on pavement due to snow and ice, implementation of this technology could be costly and might be better used strategically rather than as a standard method for all bike paths and lanes. Glow-in-the-dark pavement markings may be ideal in areas with high volumes of cyclists, on bike paths adjacent to residential neighborhoods, and college campuses where the technology could also be used on crosswalks. It will be interesting to follow the findings of these pilot studies in Texas and especially Poland, which shares a similar climate as Massachusetts.