9 steps to create your own People Protected bike lane

People Protected bike lane action in NYC

1 Identify a location that needs a protected lane

We look for existing unprotected lanes.  The best streets to convert are streets where the unprotected lane sits between moving car traffic and parked cars.  These lanes can become protected by (1) moving the bike lane towards the curb and the car parking lane towards the car traffic lanes or (2) if there isn’t enough room, car parking can be removed, and the former car parking lane can become a protected lane with vertical posts & cement curbs.  

A good example of an unprotected bike (in this case skateboard) lane. We have stood together on this white line on Howard St in San Francisco demanding protected lanes

We focus on the unprotected lanes that are used by the most bicyclists & micromobility users.  In San Francisco, our SFMTA provides bike count stats on our busiest bike streets.  We use this data to identify the busiest unprotected bike lanes. But you can probably identify the most popular streets in your city simply by riding around and talking to bike riding friends.

Protected lane on Turk St. San Francisco

2. Recruit bike riders on the street you want to change.  

Talk to people at intersections.  Hand out cards to passing bicyclists that say “Do you want a protected lane on Main Street?”  “Email me to join a People Protected Bike Lane” Find existing bike groups and social group rides; recruit people from within those groups.  We’ve also found twitter to be a great place to recruit people complaining about the danger of biking on a specific street.

3. Changing a street is politics.  

Fortunately, a growing number of cities have VisionZero data that can be used to make a strong case for safety.  People are dying and getting seriously injured because of unprotected lanes. We focus on high injury corridors – the 13% of streets in SF where 76% of traffic fatalities & injuries occur.  Your city should be tracking similar data about your most dangerous streets.

4. Partner with politicians.

Politicians are busy. They want to focus on things that already have lots of support, where the legwork is being done by someone else, and they can simply step in and hit the ball out of the park.  Create popular and possible opportunities for politicians, and put their name on the success. Invite politicians to participate in your People Protected action. This is especially effective leading into election season.

5. Form alliances.

Protected lanes make streets safer not just for bike users, but for pedestrians, the accessibility community & car drivers.  Protected lanes narrow crossing distances and calm the speed of cars. Speed is what kills. In SF we partner with groups like WalkSF, SF Transit Riders Union, and existing bike & scooter orgs like SFbike, Gobike, JUMP, Skip & Scoot.

6. Schedule your event for evening rush hour or on the weekend

We usually form our line on the street on weekdays by 5/5.30pm and conclude by 6.30/7pm.  We prefer tuesdays, wednesdays and thursdays so as not to compete with weekend travel or social plans.   It is most effective to encourage participation in a People Protected bike lane right after the standard work day.  Participants can stop by on their walk or bike ride home from work.

7. Create a signup link using google forms.  

Give people 1 week notice and ask them to sign up if they can attend. Tell them they can participate for as little as 20 minutes on their commute home. Post this to twitter, facebook and email/text it to friends.  You will have to individually ask people to participate – it is the most effective way to get someone to commit. Don’t forget to send a reminder email the night before the action

8. Ask participants to create social media content at the event.  

High quality photos & video amplify the message online.  We have an assigned photographer at each event. In a group of 10 people there will be at least one who is good at taking photographs.

9. Invite press.  

Research the journalists writing about streets and transportation in your town.  Email them. Try to meet them in person if possible. Give them details about the history of collisions on this street, the volume of bicycle users & photo content of current road conditions.  Invite them to your action. TV journalists are fine getting an invite the day before. Written reporters tend to prefer a week or a few days notice. Always email photos from your action after the event.  A good photo and a quick phone call can help them write a story even if they didn’t attend. Simply: Give journalists everything they need to write a story without working too hard. They are busy – do the work for them!

Tips for the Night of your event.

  • Make signs that let passing people know what you are doing.  Our most popular sign reads “Protected Lanes Save Lives”
  • Matching tShirts are powerful. You will look very organized. We have cheap tshirts that say “Protected Lanes Save Lives.” and cost about $8 each.
  • 3 guidelines to share with each participant
    • Stand on the line that separates the car lane from the bike lane.  Don’t block the car lane or bike lane.
    • If a car needs to enter or exit a parking spot, please make space.
    • Stay safe & Have fun!
  • Bring music!  It is fun dancing on the line.  We use this rugged speaker from Costco that is under $150
  • Have one of your most trustworthy, fun & experienced people at the front of your line.  Bonus points if this can be a woman or under-represented minority. This says to anyone who is thinking about participating “this group is for me!”
  • We usually wait to form the line once we have 5 attendees. That is usually enough to feel safe and create a protected lane.
  • When you are done – pull everyone off at the same time, and take a picture of the group to share with the world.  You just did your part to help transform our streets for safe and climate conscious future!

We are available at any time to help or answer questions if you are planning your own People Protected action.  Email us at hello@peopleprotected.com or on twitter @PeopleProtected

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