So you think you want to hold a Pop-up PoP but you’re not sure how to go about it? Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Enlist a couple of helpers – a wee team of three should do it.
  2. Identify a barrier to cycling that you want to highlight. Lack of protected cycle lane? Bollard blocking bikes? Lack of routes to schools? A tramline?
  3. Consider how you might want to creatively protest that barrier. Get folk together to form a human bike lane? Dress up as bollards along the length of the blocked routes? Run a school cycling bus for the Friday morning? We’ve listed some ideas here.
  4. Decide on a date and time – our weekend of action runs from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th, ideally ending by around noon on Sunday (to allow us to get the photos and details out to the media in time for their news conferences for Monday’s papers).
  5. Let us know! We’ll be collating all the pop-up PoPs on our site and on a map. We’ll also do an announcement on our site about each event so give us as many details as you can, including what the barriers are that you’re tackling and what you’re planning. Email us on to tell us your plans.
  6. Check out your location. We recommend that you write out a risk assessment at this stage, as it could help you run through the event in your head to make sure you’ve covered all eventualities. If you want any help with this, let us know.
  7. Start to gather supplies. If you’re going to need loads of lane markers or costumes, start gathering them early and have your helpers also do some sourcing.
  8. Set up a Facebook event page. If you’re not on Facebook, we can do this for you. Send us the link to your event and we’ll add all of the events to our own FB page as well.
  9. Advertise. Spread the word to everyone you know about what you’re planning to do and ask them to come along. Although stunts don’t need as many folk to make an impact as a full-blown POP, it’s still important to get as many people out as possible, and a wide a variety of people too. We’ll provide template posters and flyers that you can customise and distribute, as well as spreading the word through our own site and social media.
  10. Let the local media know you are going to be doing it. Ask if they would send a photographer (but make sure you also get your own photos to send to POP HQ!). We can help with drafting press releases ahead of the day so you can send it as quickly as possible after your event. Have a list of email addresses from newspapers you want to target ready before the day – we can help with this if you don’t have their contact details.

On the day

You’re aiming to get some good photos of the event so appoint someone as official photographer. Make sure you’ve got access to the internet to get the photos to us and out to your local media contacts. A Flickr group or similar can be helpful to allow people to share photos. Ask contributors of photos to make it clear what the terms of use are (are they happy for the pictures to be used to promote POP?) and ask them to let you know how to give them credit.

Tall bike and unicyclist
Even a few people can make for a striking photo … ©Ros Gasson, Photography Scotland

Fill in the gaps of your draft press release on the day and send it to your list of email addresses.  Be sure to also send your press release to POP HQ!

Brief everyone as they turn up and make sure it’s clear what everyone is doing what and who is in charge. Have a clear signal to start and finish.

For something like a human bike lane, you’re aiming for around 30 people but if you only get 10, that’s ok, the lane doesn’t need to be really long to make a point, and it doesn’t have to be in place for more than 20 minutes or so  – if the local media have sent a reporter or photographer, they may be the ones who will hold you up. Get a few riders (and any passing bikes of course!) to ride the lane – any cute kids (if their parents or guardians give permission), people dressed up, or anyone who doesn’t look like your stereotypical cyclist, should be to the fore.

Human-protected Bike Lane
GoBike’s human-protected bike lane on University Avenue in Glasgow. © John Donnelly

If you’re featuring anyone in your photographs, make sure they’re happy with it (or their parents if they’re children). It’s helpful to make sure you have a few photographs of people from behind, so they’re not readily identifiable. While it’s legally okay to use photographs of people at a public event, it’s polite to ask and respect their wishes if they don’t want to end up being the ‘face of PoP’

Ask everyone to smile and wave – even though you’re protesting, looking like you’re having fun doing it is the best tactic. And keep the yellow hi vis to a minimum this year; we don’t want to be mistaken for gilets jaunes.

Finally – don’t forget to have fun!

The legalities

It is an offence to obstruct traffic or place anything in the road that might obstruct or endanger traffic. So if you really are ‘taking it to the streets’ make sure you’re not putting anyone (including yourselves) in danger. Choose your location carefully, with good lines of sight and slow traffic speeds. Ironically enough, parked cars at either end act as a nice safety buffer. And if the police ask you to move on, then politely do so.

Build any guerrilla bike lanes out of inflatables, soft toys, or similar things that won’t damage anyone’s car (or bike). If you’re doing a human bike lane, ask participants to remove any backpacks and leave their bikes off the road. They should stand with arms outstretched, spaced out enough that hands just touch, have one person facing in and the next facing out etc, so there are eyes both out and in. Don’t get in the way of any cars (unless they’re illegally trying to cross into a bike lane) and above all don’t obstruct any bikes!

Taking it to the streets: How to run a pop-up POP event