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Jonathan Fertig, a weekly commuter, took road safety into his own hands when he erected a bike lane barrier out of potted flowers and plastic cones down the Massachusetts Ave corridor Sunday afternoon.
Jonathan Fertig, a Boston resident and bike commuter, created a functioning protected bike lane on one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the city by placing flower pots and orange plastic cones down the Massachusetts Avenue corridor bike lane near the Beacon Street intersection.
Fertig had been inspired by a book he’d recently read about “tactical urbanism” – a term used to describe a temporary measure that improves or transforms a city. Hs action was motivated by mounting frustrations with motorists using the existing bike lane as a traffic turn lane, and the city’s lack of action in erecting plastic posts near the intersection as promised.
The intersection Fertig chose, a heavily-used travel route in Boston, was the site of a fatal crash that claimed the life of endocrine surgeon Anita Kurman in August. Fertig bikes down Mass. Ave weekly during his commute to work from Dorchester to Cambridge and had become frustrated with the city’s disregard for the safety of people on bikes and pedestrians. Taking matters into his own hands, Fertig went to Home Depot, bought flowers on sale for $6 a pot, put them down, and walked away.
In response to his actions, the city of Boston recently tweeted this past week that the new posts would be installed Thursday. The area has already been repaved and new striping has been applied to the road. Subsequently, in an email, Tracy Ganiatsos, the spokeswoman for the Boston Transportation Department, stated that the city would be removing the flower pots and cones Fertig had placed, as soon as the new “flexiposts” were installed. In the meantime, Fertig’s creative improvisations will remain there temporarily.
Fertig has since launched a GoFundme.com campaign to help pay for additional plants and cones to place along Massachusetts Ave. to deter drivers from parking in the bikes lanes along the street. In two days, his campaign has raised more than $1,100. Moreover, based on tweets from people biking in the area, the cones and plants have made a difference.
A fellow Boston bicycle user tweeted a before and after photo displaying the significant improvement for road users:
— Greg Hum (@thehum) September 9, 2015
Given that the barrier only cost Fertig around $40, his actions prove a great point for city planners everywhere. Safe infrastructure does not need to be exorbitantly expensive! While more permanent installations would obviously be preferable, the success of the plants and plastic cone barrier displays just how easy and inexpensive it can be to make dramatic improvements to commuter safety.
It would seem that Fertig’s actions were justified and as result are being respected; so far, no one has removed or damaged the plants or cones. Sometimes a city just needs a little push.