Make Your Own Bike Lanes

paintIf your city council completely ignores your justified claims as cyclists, there’s no point waiting around for the reign of the car to end.

Get the message across: you’re going to be able to travel around town right now without creating pollution and without running the risk of getting crushed in the middle of your local High Street (Main Street). Does your city council keep repeating that bike lanes are impossible because the streets are too narrow, it would cost too much, or car drivers wouldn’t like it? Or maybe your city council hasn’t even figured out what a bike lane is?

Well there’s one simple way to show your city that on the contrary it’s easy and cheap—that where there’s a will there’s already half a car-free way: make the bike lanes yourselves!

Line-drawing bicycles, neatly replacing the council’s heavy machinery, have already been successfully used in The Netherlands and England during cyclists’ demonstrations.

In Dijon, where the council had planned the widening of a number of the city centre’s main roads despite a brand-new air-quality law, no bike lanes were planned. So to support a cycling group that was taking legal action against the council to obtain bike lanes, home-made bike lanes were created on the various roads in question during a Critical Mass bike demonstration.

How’s it done? Here’s a rough plan which is easy to carry out and which, while it can doubtless be improved, has worked well in the past.

It’s best to use oil paint rather than the water-based kind, which may fade quickly. One good way of getting hold of free paint is to phone up paint wholesalers and manufacturers and ask them if they’ve got any substandard batches (which they’re normally happy to give away for a good cause such as “making temporary theatre scenery” or something like that).

The paint in the can must be well diluted so that it will flow fast enough into the tube and onto the ground.

It’s best to have a practice run the day before in a secluded spot, to check that everything goes as planned. The painting needs three or so people: one to move the bike, one to control the flow and press the roller onto the ground, and one to put down stencils at regular intervals.

Okay, maybe you’re not used to breaking the law. But with this irresistably fun action idea, you’ll get used to it quickly and at the same time take public space from the car and give it back to the bicycle.

“Alternatively, you could write your council, ask it to put in a bike lane, wait for a response, lobby the planning or traffic committee, write more letters, and be told there are no funds available—even though the council is building that multi-story underground car park,” says Karl of Friends of the Earth Australia. “It’s your choice.”

View the scheme and diagram instructions

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