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Bicycle Infrastructure

Protected Bike Lanes that Any City Can Afford

The WeClaim lane delineator. Image description: A man bikes in a protected bike lane, shielded from car traffic by a series of recycled car tires that have been sculpted into planters for tall grasses and outfitted with reflective tape. Source: Spin

Road users who are tired of contending with car traffic on their ride could soon get some relief — thanks to an ultra-affordable mobility lane made out of recycled car tires.

The WeClaim lane delineator won first place in the Build a Better Barrier competition, which was hosted by micromobility company Spin in response to the surge in active transportation during the coronavirus pandemic. Milwaukee-based advocate Caressa Givens and designer Arthur Talayko were awarded a $1,000 prize for their submission, and a prototype of their design will be manufactured for a pilot project. Interested cities are encouraged to reach out to Spin if they'd like to see this beaut on their roads:

A close-up on a WeClaim barrier planter. Image description: A design sketch of a planter made out of a recycled tire compressed into the shape of a lemon and lined with reflective tape. When filled with tall plants and installed in a row on roadways, these planters form an effective, inexpensive, and durable barrier to protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users from car traffic.

The design was applauded for providing effective, highly visible protection to vulnerable road users at a low price point — while also repurposing used car tires, which are commonly founded discarded in underserved communities.

"There are car tires everywhere,” said Veronica Davis of Nspiregreen LLC, one of the contest judges. "It’s an opportunity to reuse things that are currently polluting, in particular Black, Hispanic, and also low-income communities. It’s an opportunity to reuse those things and make them beautiful.”

Spin says the WeClaim design will be made available for free to communities, and will need little more than "a simple template, [a few] used tire[s], a few basic hardware store parts, common tools, and a bit of elbow grease" to install and maintain. That's a stark contrast from traditional protected bike delineators, which can range drastically in price based on the cost of heavy construction materials like concrete, not to mention the invisible but hefty price tags on engineering, design, professional construction, and even simple traffic control during lengthy install periods. As a result, a  according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

The cost of the WeClaim delineator will vary by community as well, but the team's emphasis on open source design, inexpensive and free materials, a simple installation process, and quick implementation might make it one of the cheapest protected bike lanes available. And it could be more important than ever during the age of a pandemic, when many communities are clamoring for fast answers to the problem of crowded or non-existent bike lanes as erstwhile transit riders continue to shift to sustainable solo modes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed city landscapes overnight, forcing citizens to completely reimagine their commuting habits," said Carlos Cruz-Casas, assistant director of strategic planning for Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works and another judge of the contest. "Reduced capacity on public transportation and the need to achieve physical distancing has helped all of us rediscover the benefits of active mobility solutions such as bikes and scooters."

If the WeClaim lane doesn't suit a particular community, Spin also emphasized that the runner up designs are also available for potential pilots. Here are just a few.

"The Chain" Bike Lane Delineator, designed by team Culture House lead by Aaron Grenier. Image description: A man bikes in a protected lane, shielded from car and bus traffic by a large, waist-high lane delineator that resembles a large bicycle chain. The links in the chain form the barrier while the pins of the chain are anchored into the ground.
The Streetbloc, designed by Dayton Crites. Image description: a young girl bikes in a protected lane, shielded from car traffic by a waist-high barrier made out of neon pink and orange blocks that resemble legos. A section of the barrier has been removed to allow for a woman on foot to cross; another section of the barrier has been rearranged to allow for the inclusion of a planter within the barrier. The designer "imagined a barrier of interlocking blocks that could easily be broken down and reassembled in different configurations."
The Chroma Barrier, designed by Marcos Gasc and Billy Clooney. Image description: a man and a woman bicycle in a protected lane, shield from car traffic by a barrier made of discontinuous pieces of colored plastic in a range of interesting, curvilinear shapes. "This design uses colored translucent materials designed to both create a barrier while also filtering the natural light to create a unique visual experience," Spin noted.
The Chroma Barrier, designed by Marcos Gasc and Billy Clooney. Image description: a man and a woman bicycle in a protected lane, shield from car traffic by a barrier made of discontinuous pieces of colored plastic in a range of interesting, curvilinear shapes. "This design uses colored translucent materials designed to both create a barrier while also filtering the natural light to create a unique visual experience," Spin noted.

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