#RedCupProject | More Protection for Active Transportation
April 26, 2019 10:42 AM   Subscribe

In cities around the world today, cyclists and transportation advocates are placing cups along the paint lines of unprotected bike lanes. This was a bit of flash activism spurred by the death last week of DC cycling activist Dave Salovesh. Check the FPP downstream to see why active transportation is making more vocal demands for specialized infrastructure.
posted by SoundInhabitant (36 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
One word: caltrops.
posted by Standeck at 10:45 AM on April 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yay, I'm so glad you posted this because I was waffling between the post I made today (the FPP downstream) and a post about the Red Cup Project. In NYC (as shown in the first link) some people also used tomatoes for a more visceral demonstration.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:55 AM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Cambridge just passed a law mandating protected bike lanes be installed when city roads are reconstructed. It's expected to provide 20 miles of protected cycling over the next 5 years.

I have a four mile bike commute and I have a close call with a car multiple times a week. It's a mix of inattention and aggression from drivers, and it's getting worse as traffic delays increase. There's definitely a breaking point where drivers just stop caring, and that usually involves making an abrupt, unindicated right turn into the bike lane.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2019 [14 favorites]

The real icing on the cake is when the driver decides to yell at you after nearly hitting you. I watched a woman nearly run down a cyclist right in front of me doing exactly what I described above (sudden right turn in to the bike lane to try to get around traffic) who then started leaning on her horn and yelling obscenities. With her young kid strapped in to a child seat in the back.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:04 AM on April 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

Fill those cups with tempera paint. Red, of course. Washes out in the rain but leaves a hell of a mark until then.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:16 AM on April 26, 2019 [13 favorites]

This is an actual 'bike lane' in my city, which recently won a gold ranking as a Canadian Bike Friendly Community.
posted by Gortuk at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2019 [15 favorites]

Gortuk, I knew without clicking exactly what image would show up when I did. I used to live there too. It's .... it's a really special town.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:20 AM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Of course they bloody yell at us. We've just inserted some reality into their automotive reverie. How dare we!

I wasn't thinking of being so nice as tempera. Anti-climb paint or heavy printer's ink. Better yet, like Not the Nine O'Clock News's traffic cones, every 23rd one is a landmine.
posted by scruss at 11:20 AM on April 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

I hear ya, showbiz_liz. I waffled between just posting as a comment on your FPP, but it felt like the subject is as much how urban activism can organize pretty quickly as it is about active transportation. I'm trying to leave a little early today to do my own red cup placement out in front of Amazon HQ (where the Spheres are) in downtown Seattle.

Standeck, my immediate thought was that you were referencing the carpet tacks that some idiot in Seattle was placing in the bike lanes several times in the last two years. Super dangerous. But I appreciate the sentiment of protection when it comes to finding deterrents for 2-ton 40 mph cages.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 11:26 AM on April 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

Oh, that is a good idea, seanmpuckett. Paper cups + red tempera is the best version of this I've heard of yet. (I'm honestly a bit leery of plastic shards in my bike tires after this.) I've seen some people suggest red food coloring, but I don't think that's likely to show up well enough to be worth bothering.

I'd be assisting with cupping the lanes I use to get home from work (why, no, most of my route to work has no lanes at all in spite of years of begging) but am off boiling the oceans by traveling for work.

Drivers cannot fucking get it through their heads that a) our three-foot-passing law means three feet from where I actually am, not from where they think I should be, and b) crossing a double yellow line is allowed to pass a person riding a bicycle. I swear a frame-mounted paintball gun might be too subtle for these assholes.

In conclusion:
. for Dave Salovesh. Any of us could be next until we redesign our streets.
posted by asperity at 11:26 AM on April 26, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm still mostly too scared to bike in my city. I know that makes me part of the problem but drivers here are so terrible to bikes and pedestrians that I get seriously panicky when I'm riding on the streets.
posted by octothorpe at 11:48 AM on April 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have tried bike commuting in my small town, and I just can't. Almost every time I try, I am nearly run off the road by careless or angry drivers. Got nudged from behind once at a stop sign. It's terrible. City recently did a half-assed job of putting in a bike lane on one of the major streets; they didn't widen the street at all, just narrowed up the parallel parking shoulder and the car lanes, and stuck a bike lane next to the shoulder. Which goes up one side of the street for half its journey, where it abruptly stops and switches sides for the rest of the way. Everything is so narrow now, you're either trading paint with a passing car or constantly paranoid about getting doored by a careless parked car. You look at standard pickup trucks parked, their tire is up against the curb, and their other tires are on the white line, side mirrors protruding into the bike lane. Just bonkers. Just a "there, we did it so you can shut up about it now," in the most half-assed way possible.
posted by xedrik at 11:58 AM on April 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

For anyone in the entirely justifiable "too scared to bike near cars and also there's nowhere I can bike to that isn't near cars" category: don't let your local government believe you don't support bicycle infrastructure (the assumed default for people who drive everywhere).

Please find ways to let them know you're interested in biking for transportation sometimes, if only they built safe streets. Show up, be heard, try to support the incremental changes that are all we've managed to get built so far. They're not enough. But there are a lot of people fighting even the tiny improvements, and local and state governments use that to refuse to build the complete networks we need to allow everyone who wants to to bike safely.
posted by asperity at 12:17 PM on April 26, 2019 [12 favorites]


I never knew Dave but recognize his picture from some WABA events.

The other bike safety news in NoVa this week: A Fairfax County police officer hit a cyclist in a crosswalk, and then gave him a ticket.
posted by peeedro at 12:43 PM on April 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'm ready to get some ready-mix concrete and 5 gallon buckets to protect the 15th St. bike lane in DC where it meets U St. No matter now many times they replace the flexible pylons, they're destroyed by cars within a month or so.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:00 PM on April 26, 2019 [15 favorites]

People ask me about my bike commute, which is Cambridge-Boston, and they're so surprised when I say that it sucks and I don't recommend bike commuting. Like we're out here having a dandy old time instead of risking our necks for $84.50 a month.
posted by turkeybrain at 1:21 PM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Please find ways to let them know you're interested in biking for transportation sometimes, if only they built safe streets.

+1 on this. Seattle has an amazing community of commute cyclists, and still we're having to scrape and claw for every 500 feet of painted bike lanes. Pretty sure the 35th Ave controversy was documented on the Blue recently, and Seattle DOT is in the midst of rebooting the Bicycle Master Plan. The south end of town is still missing some pretty foundational elements of safety infrastructure.

Default behavior anywhere is to prioritize cars.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 1:45 PM on April 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

I still think the BC Motor Vehicle Act should be amended to let bikes ride on the sidewalk. It'd be protected from cars, at least.
posted by Quackles at 2:00 PM on April 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Remove the sidewalks, stop signs, and traffic lights. Repeal jaywalking laws. Prosecute automobile collisions as (attempted) manslaughter. The low expectations we have about public safety are inhumane, and establish a shitty equilibrium where the only way to be safe is to be part of the hazard.
posted by idiopath at 3:17 PM on April 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm 100% in favor of improving cycling infrastructure, but surely there's a way to do this that doesn't result in a bunch of broken plastic cups winding up in the gutters?
posted by whir at 4:10 PM on April 26, 2019

From my cycling city: More people are dying on L.A.’s streets despite a push to eliminate traffic fatalities. (Data includes all traffic fatalities, including auto, pedestrian, and cyclist.)
posted by mykescipark at 5:01 PM on April 26, 2019

 let bikes ride on the sidewalk. It'd be protected from cars, at least.

Destroys both vehicles' sight lines, endangers pedestrians, and cars kill people on the sidewalk with no penalties all the time.
posted by scruss at 5:14 PM on April 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

whir: surely there's a way to do this that doesn't result in a bunch of broken plastic cups winding up in the gutters?

I think they used paper cups.
posted by swerve at 6:11 PM on April 26, 2019

I suppose I may be succumbing to an older person's typical confirmation bias delusion that everything is getting worse, but I really think drivers increasingly have no respect at all for traffic laws. I see so many people just blowing through stop signs, feeling entitled to turn right on red without stopping, and driving right through red lights - not kind of cutting it close on the yellow, but speeding up and entering the intersection after the light has fully turned red, or turning left through the intersection after one person turned left on the yellow, and one ahead of them ran the light to turn, and then the third person just feels entitled to not wait even though the light is now entirely red. The police are useless, they don't give tickets for anything except speeding on highways. I can't imagine what it's like to try to bicycle in this environment.
posted by thelonius at 6:36 PM on April 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

Dutch cycle infrastructure on busy roads is much more a special part of the sidewalk than a special part of the road. This goes together with wide sidewalks that are continuous across junctions for minor roads, and decent green time for cyclists/pedestrians at larger intersections.

Pedestrians and cyclists are on the same team.
posted by grahamparks at 7:16 PM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I intermittently bike commute on a residential street with a "bike lane" (a 3 ft unprotected strip). I do it much less than I would like, because cars zip along at 45+ mph in a 30 zone and there are frequently cars or delivery vehicles parked in the bike lane which means having to weave in and out of the car lane. Also, the bike lane is basically unmaintained -- full of wet dead leaves in fall, unplowed in winter, unrepaired potholes the rest of the year. But car speed is my biggest concern. I used to bike commute in a bigger, denser city where car traffic was barely 15-20 mph due to congestion, so I could toodle along at 10 mph and not feel imminently threatened.

The city did a dockless bikeshare program recently, but after an initial rush, I haven't seen those bikes anywhere. Rather than realize the problem is cars not bikes, the city's apparently going to try scooters next. I want to know which moron is approving the use of tax dollars on pricey fads rather than improving street safety for everyone.
posted by basalganglia at 1:57 AM on April 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

I suppose I may be succumbing to an older person's typical confirmation bias delusion that everything is getting worse, but I really think drivers increasingly have no respect at all for traffic laws.
Well, I don't think many schools even have driver's ed classes any more. Also I compare my mother's description of her road test in the 1960s to what little I had to do to pass in the 1990s and I think a big chunk is probably down to people just never having learned what the rules are supposed to be and basically getting their practical training "on the job" as it were. At some point it became a basic expectation that everyone would get a driver's license and so the requirements to get one became essentially pro forma.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:15 AM on April 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Nails would weigh those cups down better than water.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 9:59 AM on April 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

The 15th street bike lane is some wonderful bike infrastructure but completely agree with ryanshepard about that U St. intersection.

Lately I've been thinking that one solution we might try is: you want to operate a multi-ton homicide vehicle in a crowded environment with tons of unprotected human beings? Ok, but strict liability for any harm caused.
posted by Inkoate at 2:49 PM on April 27, 2019

What would work better than disposable cups? Maybe people?
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:22 AM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think the best all-American solution would be that all bike riders open carry. An AR-15 on every cyclist's back would surely encourage a more polite society, right? /s
posted by Harald74 at 6:42 AM on April 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sarcasm aside, I've considered that option seriously. I don't think that I am a great candidate for safe gun ownership, and also none of the places I bike to are places I would want anyone to be openly carrying firearms. (Many, like my workplace, even have policies prohibiting firearms on the premises, open or concealed.)

I just don't know what the hell we do without drivers consenting to be regulated at all, other than continuing to try to convince them to try other methods of transportation. And they just won't accept any kind of regulation or enforcement beyond a bit of hand-waving at eliminating drunk driving. There's no education and no reason for them to even know the law. In the unlikely event they drive badly enough to attract the attention of law enforcement, even suspended or revoked licenses don't stop them from driving.

Events like #RedCupProject are the only thing keeping despair at bay, though that they're necessary at all doesn't help on that score.
posted by asperity at 8:01 AM on April 29, 2019

A Twitter user linked to this device, called Catclaw. The effects of these along the white line are satisfying to contemplate, at least...
posted by Harald74 at 11:39 PM on April 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ghost Bike for DC Cyclist Killed By Stolen Van Damaged in Saturday Morning Crash. The accident damaged the memorial, a vehicle, a light pole, a gate, and several trees. The driver fled the scene.
posted by peeedro at 7:32 AM on May 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

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