Want to draw attention to a problem in your area with a Pop-up PoP and not sure where to start? We’ll be publishing a ‘how to’ guide shortly, but for now here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
Chalk spray paint (which washes off with no damage done) is a really effective way to highlight problems out on the street. Go Bike use their ‘Paint is not protection’ stencil to great effect, as well as a physical version of the Cycling Embassy’s ‘Insert Loved One Here’ [https://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/insert-loved-one-here] campaign. Stencils can be combined with some of the other ideas below, to clarify what you’re trying to achieve, and to make sure your message lingers on (at least until it next rains)
— GoBike (@GoBikeGlasgow) February 10, 2018
And because campaigning doesn’t always have to be negative, you can use stencils to ‘lovebomb‘ the bits of cycling infrastructure you want to see more of
Guerrilla bike lanes
Painted bike lanes rarely do anything but tick a box on a planner’s form – but what if a painted lane could be converted into a physically protected bike line instead?
In the US, a little bit of humour and a guerilla bike lane turned a job lot of toilet plungers into a genuinely protected bike lane. Toilet humour is always effective, but you could equally use soft toys, shoes, or something that symbolises your area – whether it be penguins in Dundee or Clydesdale horses in Clydesdale. Or a traffic cone in Glasgow.
Alternatively, if it’s cars parking in bike lanes or on cycle tracks that’s the problem, this is an elegant way of drawing attention to it:
That's one way to make a point. Belgrade cyclists lay a 'bicycle lane' over illegally parked cars. pic.twitter.com/KEtBoOdWLo
— Velosure (@CycleVelosure) February 26, 2019
Another fun intervention is this inflatable zebra crossing – something similar might be possible for cycling infrastructure, with a bit of ingenuity.
Human-protected bike lanes
The ultimate guerrilla lane is a human-protected one – as used around the world, but most recently by GoBike on University Avenue. This is an easy but really visually powerful way to show the need for real protection for vulnerable cyclists. Take care and choose your lane carefully, though.
Raising (or lowering!) barriers
Got a barrier that’s blocking access to a cycle path to all but standard two-wheel bikes? A group of anonymous miscreants in Dumfries masquerading under the name of the Bollard and Chicane Protection Authority drew attention to the proliferation of unreflective bollards and other barriers by yarn bombing them with colourful (and reflective knitwear). After making fools of themselves in the national media by calling it ‘littering‘, the council were embarrassed enough to quietly get rid of most of the barriers in the months that followed.
You can draw attention to barriers in other ways too. The easiest way might be simply to gather the people who are barred from using cycle paths and other routes because they need a non-standard bike to get around – and show how they can’t make it through.
Fancy dress (or no dress at all)
Dressing up can be a good way to make a point – for instance, dressing up as superheroes to demonstrate the difficulty of cycling somewhere – or as schoolchildren on a route that ought to be safe for kids but isn’t. Or you could take it the other way as well! Edinburgh’s branch of the World Naked Bike Ride is (sensibly) a bit later in the year but cyclists in Derby have tried stripping off to demonstrate the stripping away of safety measures (be warned that Scotland’s laws on nudity are a bit more stringent than they are in England and Wales, although apparently this is changing).
Alternatively, even a straightforward ‘bike bus’ – escorting children on bikes to school en masse for both safety and visibility – can be a striking way to demonstrate both what’s possible and how difficult it is for kids to do this on their own. The Sciennes primary school monthly bike bus is becoming a phenomenon, but others are now springing up in Edinburgh and beyond
There are loads of other ideas that can and have been used to highlight a problem in a creative way – sometimes with almost immediate effect. Go Bike’s ‘ice rink’ sign finally led Glasgow council to take steps to drain a persistent puddle that had been causing problems without any effective action for three years.
For the 3rd year running @GlasgowCC bring you the SWCW Ice Rink! Free to all! (Minus your council tax). When will they show a real commitment to active travel and repair and maintain our safe cycling spaces? pic.twitter.com/6xUN2nVLMM
— GoBike (@GoBikeGlasgow) December 4, 2018
Other creative ideas include – highlighting a poor section of road surface by staging a ‘Paris-Roubaix’ style race complete with cheering fans and cowbells, dressing up as cleaners to sweep neglected cycle lanes, or using glow sticks or bike lights (or even staging a disco) to highlight unlit and unsafe routes.
We hope these have given you some inspiration. If you’ve got an issue you’d like to highlight in your area and want to join in our weekend of action then get in touch!