We noticed some new markings on the street yesterday and wondered what they were. Maybe you did, too.

The City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department knows what they are. Here’s the explanation they sent out, with some photos — it’s not on the City’s website yet so we just copied it from a press release.

Green Pavement Markings in Bike Lanes

on Laurel Street Seek to Improve Cyclist Safety

and Reduce Traffic Conflicts


SANTA CRUZ (Jan. 8, 2015) – The City of Santa Cruz has begun installation of green pavement markings in new bike lanes on Laurel Street. The green markings are designed to increase visibility of the bike lane, identify areas of potential conflict and promote a clearer understanding of the lane’s purpose. Construction completion is expected by mid-January and will mark the conclusion of the Laurel Street repaving project.

The green pavement markings are being installed at approaches to all Laurel Street intersections from Front Street to California Street. Each block is being marked with a 20-foot-long solid green rectangle with white bike legend and arrow to establish alignment and remind drivers of the cycling lane. At the end of each block, where right turns are allowed, a dashed white line with dashed green boxes will identify conflict areas where vehicles are permitted to merge into the bike lane prior to making a turn and where cyclists can continue straight through the intersection. 


“The green pavement markings are there to help increase awareness for both drivers and cyclists of merge zones in the bike lane — the areas where potential conflicts may occur,” said Transportation Manager James Burr.


The City Council initiated the new markings by approving a pilot green bike lane project earlier this year. The Laurel Street location was chosen mainly for its brand new paving which required all new markings; the fresh pavement will help the green markings to last longer.


Current traffic laws and operation remain the same in bike lanes with green pavement markings.  There are three pertinent bike lane rules that drivers and bicyclists should know:


  • It is legal for vehicles to drive over bike lanes when making a turn or parking; this includes locations with green pavement markings. 


  • When the green pavement marking in the bike lane is dashed, rather than solid green, it means that this is a Merge Zone where drivers may cautiously enter to make a turn.


  • When drivers are turning right at a bike lane, they should signal before entering the Merge Zone, yield to bicyclists in the bike lane and complete their turn when safe to do so.


“The new green lanes do not change the existing rules of the road,” said People Power of Santa Cruz County Director Amelia Conlen. “Cyclists should be cautious when approaching an intersection, and be on the lookout for drivers who may be making an unexpected right turn.”


The green markings are being constructed of thermo-plastic material. They will be a first for the City of Santa Cruz following the lead of nearby municipalities including Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Jose.


The City of Santa Cruz apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this construction project and looks forward to improving Laurel Street traffic flow with this safer and more bicycle-friendly roadway system.


For more information, please contact Transportation Manager James Burr at (831) 420-5426 or visit the Public Works website: www.cityofsantacruz.com/publicworks.


About the City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department


The Public Works Department provides the City of Santa Cruz with a variety of services including engineering design, traffic engineering and maintenance, storm water management, street maintenance, resource recovery management, waste reduction programs, wastewater management, flood control and parking control. The Public Works Department is committed to bringing the Santa Cruz community the highest possible quality of life.


Santa Cruz County_daubenbiss.Credit StevePiercy.com