Pop-up plazas: A taste of the good life

The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition installed this pop-up design at an Open Streets event to show neighbours what a protected bike lane could look like.

Often it is hard to get communities to buy in to cycling and walking friendly developments because, after 60 years of a car-only environment, it is difficult for them to imagine what anything else will look like or how it will work. This seems to be particularly difficult for people who actually lived through the pre-1960s period when streets were still commonly used by all modes of transport, not devoted only to moving cars as fast as possible.

Minnesota, one of North America’s cycling hot spots, has been using temporary pop up plazas and boulevards to demonstrate the concepts advocates are asking for.

This is really consistent with the “cheap, fast and temporary” philosophy that was used so effectively in New York and received an enthusiastic reception when Janette Sadikh-Khan explained it earlier this year in Auckland. However, we have yet to see that enthusiasm translated into action. Though to be fair Auckland does seem to be ahead of Minnesota in that we will soon have our first inner city separated cycle path.

The city worked with Rockwell and Weiss to lay sod over asphalt to show residents how a new greenway in North Minneapolis could look.

The Minnesota Bicycle Coalition has been known to use guerilla (not gorilla) tactics to forward their cause. However, they have found that engaging with local officialsto put in place pop-ups and temporary infrastructure has been constructive:

The Minneapolis Public Works Department helped them gather traffic data along the corridor where they’re planning a greenway in north Minneapolis that would transfer right-of-way from cars to bikes. As the city explored the concept, they held an Open Streets event in which they put down sod to demonstrate to the community what a greenway would look like.

Some great ideas there that I am sure Auckland could be inspired by.



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