Cycling advocates around the country on Friday placed red plastic cups along bike lanes to show how unsafe the lanes actually are.Many cups were crushed within minutes, demonstrating the need for protected bike lanes.
Called the #RedCupProject, the protest honors a D.C. bike activist killed by a driver last week. Dave Salovesh, a dedicated and vocal cycling advocate in Washington, D.C., was killed on his bike last week when a driver fleeing police struck him at about 70 mph. In response, local activists staged a protest on Friday where they lay down on Pennsylvania Avenue and called for safer streets on their own turf.
But at the same time, another protest went global when advocates across the world, paying tribute to Salovesh and his calls for more radical action in the fight for safer streets, placed red plastic cups along unprotected bike lanes in their towns and cities.
An unsanctioned move in the tradition of “tactical urbanism,” the cups demonstrated how vulnerable cyclists are on streets without physical barriers separating their lanes from car traffic. On some streets, participants said, the cups—and, occasionally, tomatoes—were crushed by drivers in a matter of minutes.
From Boston to L.A., and as far away as the U.K. and Australia, cyclists shared photos and videos of their makeshift protected bike lanes in what became known as the #RedCupProject.
Laura Shepard, of the New York City advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, placed her cups on the edge of a bike lane in Queens, the borough she oversees for the organization. Sheppard said she picked the spot to show how “paint on the ground is insufficient” and how New York needs to close its bike lane network.
“We need protected lanes with vertical protection,” Shepard said. “In this case, the only thing on this block in the way of that is six parked cars. And when you consider that it's possible more than six people per hour use this block for active transportation, people getting through it safely is more important than vehicle storage.”
Some cyclists who were wary of littering, but wanted to get the same message across, made their point with tomatoes instead.
In the end, though, it was drivers in cars who smashed up the ad hoc barriers, showing that mere paint on the ground can’t save human lives.