Here’s a cheap and easy way to give people a taste of what a permanent protected bikeway would feel like, which could go a long way toward raising more public awareness of, and support for, dedicated bicycle transportation options.
A community coalition working to build 30 new miles of well-designed and protected bikeways in Minneapolis used a novel method for reaching the people who might benefit the most from better bicycling routes, by actually showing them what riding in a protected bikeway is like. The group built 15 planters from plywood (it took 10 people working for three hours, and the cost was just $600), filled them with plants, and hauled them to the demonstration site, where they were set up in a long course on the street during an Open Streets Minneapolis event.
Once cyclists approached this pop-up bike lane a volunteer flagged them into it, giving them a feel for what it would be like to be able to ride on the road in a car-free lane. The organizer, Andrew Kuncel, said the protected bikeway demonstration was a “gold mine” for growing support for the Bikeways For Everyone coalition.
“When they get to the end, you can basically get them to sign any type of petition. It just makes sense.” – Andrew Kuncel
Two big takeaways from this pop-up bike lane is that it doesn’t have to take a lot of space to demonstrate what a protected bikeway feels like, and by using planters to add an element of beauty to the road, the idea can appeal to non-cyclists as well.
Obviously this wasn’t a standalone attempt to gain awareness of the value of protected bikeways, as the coalition has been using a variety of methods to raise support for bike trails, greenways, and protected bikeways, but it certainly seemed to be an effective demonstration that reached exactly the right group of people – those who might like to ride their bikes but not necessarily in traffic.
Building a pop-up bike lane could be an effective and low-cost event for boosting support for bikeways by any local cycling advocacy group, especially those that really want to “show”, not tell, people how protected lanes can change the dynamic of cycling, for both cyclists and drivers alike.
[Image: Screen capture]