Activists: Smashed Tomatoes on Denver Bike Lanes Could Be Our Heads

Tactical urbanism: A cyclist and scooter rider ride in the Wynkoop Street bike lane protected by red cups and tomatoes during the #RedCupProject demonstration on April 26.
Tactical urbanism: A cyclist and scooter rider ride in the Wynkoop Street bike lane protected by red cups and tomatoes during the #RedCupProject demonstration on April 26.

Bicycle advocates Jonathan Fertig and Rob Toftness put tomatoes on top of red plastic cups and placed them along the edge of an unprotected bike lane near Union Station this morning, one of several #RedCupProject demonstrations in Denver and in cities around the world.

Fertig used social media to organize the protest after a driver killed bike activist Dave Salovesh last week in an unprotected bike lane in the nation’s capital.

Jonathan Fertig andRob Toftness placed red cups and tomatoes along the bike lane on Wyncoop between 15th and 16th Streets. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Jonathan Fertig and Rob Toftness placed red cups and tomatoes along the bike lane on Wyncoop between 15th and 16th Streets. Photo: Andy Bosselman

“It’s to honor a fallen advocate in D.C.,” said Fertig, who is a well-known bike activist himself.  “As well as call attention, in Denver and cities across the world, the need for cities to be more proactive about making protected infrastructure.”

This installation is at South Monaco and South Magnolia Way near Southmoor Elementary School

As drivers veered over the line demarcating the bike lane on Wynkoop, they smashed cups and tomatoes, leaving blood-colored detritus on the street, which illustrated the dangers cyclists face when riding on unprotected bike infrastructure. The cups also showed that adding physical protection to a bike lane does not have to be difficult or costly.

“It shows how easy it is to put something down to make a protected bike lane,” said Fertig. “But also how fragile the people who occupy these lanes are.”

Fertig wanted to get the attention of mayors, telling StreetsblogUSA, “Our hope is that the #RedCupProject will impress upon Mayor Bowser in D.C., Mayor Hancock in Denver and mayors/city councilors everywhere that there’s no more time to delay rapid deployment of safe cycling infrastructure.”

Activists in New York City also followed along with Fertig’s idea.

“Imagine a transportation planner designing a street where the only thing protecting people on bikes from cars and trucks was a tomato or a paper cup,” cyclist Doug Gordon said. “And yet planners think nothing of ‘protecting’ bike lanes with paint.”

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