May 19, 2014

by Zoe Kircos, PeopleForBikes grants manager

In the spirit of Mother’s Day recently past, I?m going to share a bit of wisdom from my own dear mom. And it is this: You don’t know whether that dress will work or not until you go into the dressing room and try it on. Zip it up, twirl around, sit down, stand on tiptoes, look at it from all angles. And then you?ll pretty much know if it’s something you want in your life.

I know what you?re thinking. This has nothing to do with bicycling. Bear with me.

Earlier this month, the 20th Bike to Work Day in the California Bay Area featured something a little new. It’s called a Pop-Up Protected Bike Lane. Two local advocacy groups, Bike East Bay and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, worked with the city to install this temporary protected bike lane for one block along Telegraph Avenue, a major commuter route. Instead of a traditional bike lane separating bicycles from traffic with a stripe of paint, this one used parked cars as a barrier between the people on bikes and in cars.

Mayor Jean Quan — who looks pretty darn happy riding her bike in the pop-up lane — joined with City Councilmembers Lynette McElhaney, Rebecca Kaplan, and Dan Kalb to take a spin. Regular commuters were quite direct about what they thought of the demo. ?It’s amazing to bike on Telegraph Avenue and feel so safe,? said Autumn Bernstein, an Oakland resident. ?I wish it were like this all the time.?

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan enjoys the temporary protected lane.

Descriptions are fine and pictures are great, and sometimes they can almost make you imagine what riding that street will be like. But in the end it’s like looking at a dress on a hanger. You have to try it on and see how it feels. I can pretty much guarantee that, unlike some of my clothing choices, protected bike lanes in more places will be a perfect fit.

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