In Portland there is a program being tested at intersections to make cycling a bit safer. At an intersection in the far right lane there is a bright green color painted along the bike lane then across the front of the intersection. This green box is designed so that the driver becomes aware of the bike path to their right and then can see the cyclist contrasted with the bright green color.
The idea is to bring awareness to drivers at the intersection. One of the most common bike injuries is the right hook. This is where the cyclist is starting from a stop light and a car does not see them while making a right turn and runs the cyclist over. A green box is supposed to help stop this type of accident from happening. Are these green boxes preventing these?
Statistically they are not actually making the road any safer or more dangerous. The accidents are pretty much the same. But that might not mean the project or the intentions are in vain even though there aren't measurable results yet. Cyclists feel quite a bit safer riding where there are these green box intersections. They know that the road there is specifically designed to keep them safer. The key issue is feeling safer.
If cyclists feel safer, typically they are encouraged to use their bicycle versus being too scared to take it out. The more safe cyclists feel, the more of them are on the roads. The more cyclist that are on the road, the more awareness the average driver has to be due to the increase in people on bicycles. It can be an endless loop and there will no doubt be a learning curve for both cyclist and drivers. Let's just hope that the accidents will only be scratched paint and bruises until we all learn to coexist on the road.
Measures like this can create a snowball effect encouraging more people to bike. If common roads had lots of bikes on them each day, cyclists and drivers would be very aware of the problems theses two vehicles can have on the road and attempt to avoid them.
Green boxes are an intersection design to make cyclists safe from the "right hook" accident. Let's do our part and keep cycling safe by being aware of what's going on around our vehicles, in particular wherever green boxes are present.