The Fading Bike Lanes: Weighing in on weather and demand

Just a few days after the netizens have lauded the initiative of the local government to provide bike lanes through donations of paint, the rainy weather seem to have messed with us. Photos have been spreading around about how the paint of the bike lanes were stripped off by the heavy rains in the past few days.

As a backgrounder, the color green is actually a United States-standard color interim-approved by the Federal Highway Administration of the US Department of Transportation. This has been published in its Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The color was selected after a number of experiments in the US and several countries to select which one could properly communicate that the certain portion of the roadway is for the use of bicyclists. Green and blue were among the top picks with the former being the color that we have in Iloilo City. Additionally, the MUTCD has emphasized the need for consideration of selecting materials that would minimize loss of traction for bicyclists.

For bike lanes to perform its optimal function and durability, cross-linking acrylic polymers or similar thermoplastic materials should be used. If circumstances could provide, the green lanes may also be textured for additional slip resistance during wet pavement conditions as well as added durability.

In the case of Iloilo City, reports say that the local government engineering office stated that latex paint was used for the pavement. Latex is actually an umbrella of paint types and acrylic is one of them. Based on Ennis-Flint America, a roadway paint company, latex paint can be used for both asphalt and concrete pavement. In preparation, the road surface must be clean and free from dust and loose debris. The road surface must be dry for at least 24 hours since measurable and observable rain. After painting, the surface must not be exposed to rain for at least four hours.

It can be observed that for many days, the weather was not favorable. It can be possible that due to the warm-to-cold variable weather conditions, the integrity of the paint material was affected. Rain is the ultimate enemy of any construction project which includes painting. Netizens have suggested that the paint could have been covered. However, the cover would not help. Pavements have a certain cross-sectional grade to ensure water does not pond in the middle of the carriageway. The small incline leads the run-off water to the sides towards the gutter. Thus, if the paint was covered, still the run-off water would seep underneath the cover and still damage the paint.

Come to think of it, the damage could have been prevented if the weather was properly monitored prior to implementation of the project. There are various sources online where we can see the weather in the coming days and that in turn would help us decide when to implement the painting work. The rush may have come from the demands of stakeholders for the facilities to be installed as bike commuters have increased in the wake of the pandemic. Thus, we cannot totally blame the city for wanting to serve us fast. While the local government is keeping up with the demands of the citizenry which all of us appreciate, it is also prudent for its implementers to make sure resources will not go entirely to waste.

Just days ago, these were bright green bike lanes serving the growing bike commuter population in the Philippines’ most bike-friendly city. And after a few rains, the green marks and the confidence of the biking community with Iloilo City’s commitment to providing great infrastructure for them is threatening to fade.

The road surface must be dry for at least 24 hours since measurable and observable rain. After painting, the surface must not be exposed to rain for at least four hours.

Published by Ilonggo Engineer

Ilonggo Engineer or Ray, is a civil engineer and a writer who strongly advocates for road safety, technology literacy, and social equity.

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