A Pumpkin-Protected Bike Lane on All Hallows’ Eve

Volunteers with Bike Durham protected a vital bike lane with pumpkins for Halloween on Thursday. Photo: Shaun King/Visual Rituals
Volunteers with Bike Durham protected a vital bike lane with pumpkins for Halloween on Thursday. Photo: Shaun King/Visual Rituals

The advocacy group Bike Durham carried out a bit of guerrilla “tactical urbanism,” placing over 50 carved jack-o’-lanterns in the buffer zone of a painted bike lane on Broad Street, one of the city’s main north-south corridors. The action was a rebuke to city government for failing to install a protected bike lane when they resurfaced Broad street last summer, as detailed by Streetsblog.

Bike Durham organizers came up with the idea of using pumpkins after reading about activists in other cities using tomatoes, red Solo cups, and toilet plungers as DIY barriers. The pumpkins are about the same size as the new “armadillo” dividers that some cities are using to make bike lanes safer.

The murderer’s row of cheery orange spheroids was dropped into place just before the afternoon rush hour. Numerous passers-by stopped for pictures; one stopped to help himself to a free pumpkin. The rest remained on the street as darkness fell, just before a thunderstorm ended the night early for trick-or-treaters. No pumpkins were smashed, though one was brushed by a car and tipped over.

Photo: Shaun King/Visual Rituals
Photo: Shaun King/Visual Rituals

Bicycle commuters using the lane were surprised to find it protected, however temporarily. “It’s amazing how much more comfortable it felt to be separated from cars by these little bumps in the road,” said Bike Durham member Marc Maximov. The scary symbols of Halloween made riding on the street a lot less scary.

Here’s a video of the event, made by Shaun King of Bike Durham.

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Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. A practice that began as guerrilla activism and was later embraced by professionals as “tactical urbanism” — using live on-street demos to test the effects of changes to city streets — hit a milestone last […]