Stephen Atherton, left, and Skye Chataway of the Kelowna and Area Cycling Coalition try out the new bike box at the intersection of Richter Street and Sutherland Avenue on Thursday afternoon. The bike box offers a space for cyclists to use while waiting at red lights. Turning right in a bike box on a red light, as this motorist appears to be doing, is a no-no.
A bright green "bike box" has been painted on the road at the corner of Richter Street and Sutherland Avenue.
Cyclists pull in front of cars to go into the box, moving ahead of all motorized traffic when the light turns green. To further enhance safety for bicyclists, right-hand turns on red lights are no longer permitted for drivers at the intersection.
"I think it's a great idea, definitely a step in the right direction," said Skye Chataway, treasurer of the Kelowna and Area Cycling Coalition.
"It'll help bring more driver awareness to cyclists being on the road," Chataway said.
City crews painted the bike box on the southbound lane of Richter earlier this week. Officials say bike boxes used in other cities increase the visibility of cyclists at intersections, helping to avoid collisions and improving road safety.
"If everyone is predictable and abides by traffic rules, it significantly reduces the risk of an accident," said Mahesh Tripathi, a city traffic engineering technician.
Opinions from passing pedestrians varied on the merits of the bike box. Anna Stirling, 72, wasn't sure what to make of the green markings. After being informed of their purpose, she sighed and said, "Good heavens, what a silly idea."
However, David Taylor, 37, said: "Sounds like a good plan to me. It can be pretty dangerous riding a bike. Hopefully, this will make things safer."
Along with the bike box, the city is testing new traffic signal software that will detect when cyclists are waiting to proceed through an intersection.
"This technology, paired with the green bike boxes, will make it a lot more convenient, faster and safer for cyclists to travel," said Atif Khan, the city's traffic signals supervisor.
The intersection at Bernard and Richter will also get a green bike box this fall.