Thursday, September 3, 2009

DIY Urban Repair Squads Worldwide (Article)

Photo: O.U.R.S. Victoria, BC

OURS is part of an international network with groups across North and South America and Europe.

“The Urban Repair Squads encourage citizens to reclaim stewardship of their cities through direct action,” says Duit. “The point of tapping in to that network is to show we’re not just flying solo here. There are people all over the world working on similar things.”

Full Article in Monday Magazine, Victoria

1 comment:

Tino said...

Cycling Activists Take to Streets Over Slow Expansion of Bike Lanes
Cycling Activists Take to Streets Over Slow Expansion of Bike Lanes

Last Updated (Monday, 03 August 2009 00:09) Written by Yukon Duit Monday, 06 July 2009 23:28

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‘Other Urban Repair Squad’ (O.U.R.S.) Hits Victoria:

Cycling Activists Take to Streets Over Slow Expansion of Bike Lanes

Monday, July 6th, 2009 – Hot on the heels of the public launch of the CRD’s Regional Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan initiative on June 16th, a group of cycling activists are “painting the streets white” with a series of guerilla bicycle lanes.

Last weekend, the Other Urban Repair Squad (O.U.R.S) Victoria painted “sharrows” along Hillside Avenue between Quadra and Cook. Sharrows - short for “Shared Use Arrow” - are a bicycle-and-chevron marking indicating a shared use lane. The markings are used in cities across North America and Europe along roadways that are too narrow to incorporate a full bike lane.

The group’s spokesperson Yukon Duit says that “Sharrows are like coming in 4th place in the Olympics - they’re not a replacement for bike lanes, but they’re a pedal in the right direction.”

The group installed sharrows rather than bike lanes to draw attention to the range of markings that can be used to encourage both motorists and cyclists to position themselves safely on the road. Sharrows were recently adopted by the Transportation Association of Canada, the body that approves standards and guidelines for road design and markings across Canada.

The CRD has hired Alta Planning and Design, one of the leading alternative transportation consultants in North America, to head the Regional Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan project. The Plan involves a significant public consultation component and will be finalized in 2010. This is the first time all 13 municipalities will work together to develop an alternative transportation plan. Victoria has the highest share of commuter cyclists in Canada and among the highest across North America. Nearly 8 percent of Victoria commuter traffic during rush hour is made up of cyclists.

"The CRD Plan is a great initiative,” said Duit, “But only if it is met with actual dollars when it’s launched in 2010.” Overlapping jurisdictions and bureaucratic inertia have meant that the region as a whole has been slow to implement sustainable solutions to encourage widespread commuter cycling. For example, commitments outlined in the 1995 City of Victoria Master Bike Plan will likely not be met by that plan’s deadline next year.

As of Monday afternoon city crews had covered the markings with grey paint. “It’s a shame that the City couldn’t wait a few days to see how people reacted to the markings,” says Duit, adding that sharrows do not disrupt the flow of traffic but instead remind motorists and cyclists to safely share the road. The group plans to install more sharrows throughout the summer.

O.U.R.S Victoria is part of a larger international network of Urban Repair Squads across North America, Europe and South America that encourages citizens to reclaim ownership and stewardship of urban space and actively construct a positive future of urban infrastructure through direct action.

Portland recently installed two-lane bike lanes in some areas of that city to accommodate the multitude of cyclists. “This is what the future of urban transportation infrastructure in the CRD should look like,” says Duit. “The creation of bike friendly roads to encourage and support cycling.”

For more information:
San Francisco’s Share Lane Pavement Markings: Improving Bicycle Safety (first report on sharrow use in North America)