In April a handful of locals calling themselves the “Reasonably Polite Seattleites” took action to demonstrate the ease and affordability of increasing safety for cyclists using an unprotected bicycle lane on Cherry St. in Seattle. These folks gathered together $350 and installed reflective pylons along the lane separating cyclists and drivers.
Based on my experience commuting in such lanes in other cities, 1) they slow speeding traffic by making the lane appear narrower (without actually reducing its size); and 2) it’s essentially a warning system for a drunk or distracted driver; once he hits one, he’s more likely to slow down, lessening the chance of hitting a cyclist or pedestrian down the road. This string cost about $350 in materials and required literally 10 minutes to install …
As expected, SDOT soon removed the pylons because they were not approved and because they were too tall:
Cherry Street is under the freeway and is owned by the State, so we do have to get their permission for reconfiguring the street. If we had more lane width to work with, we could installed shorter posts. Unfortunately, this is not the case here.
Unfortunately, this is the state of developing sustainable transportation under the current political and bureaucratic regimes. Strict regulations and jurisdictional concerns institutionalize the status quo and create barriers to citizen action and common-sense solutions. Their demonstration may have been removed, but this “guerrilla” action speaks to citizens’ desire for more action and less burdensome regulation. May more people follow with similar polite, respectful civil disobedience.