Catie Gould and Emily Guise are co-editors of our Adventures in Activism column.
It’s a scenario familiar to anyone biking in a city: you’re riding down the bike lane, when suddenly you’re forced to brake and swerve around an unforeseen obstacle blocking your way. At best, this is annoying; at worst, it is deadly.
Reporting these issues can be extremely frustrating. In Portland, there is no way to send a photo to the Parking Enforcement number, and callers rarely know if a ticket was ever issued. Reports to the 823-SAFE hotline can take months to be reviewed and disappear into a database that is not publicly accessible. This leads people to resort to social media, which raises only temporary awareness.
A new website aims to fill the gap. Since Bike Lane Uprising launched in September 2017, it has received over 2200 bike lane obstructions reports. Christina Whitehouse, an industrial designer in Chicago, has been surprised by how quickly it has taken off. The site allows people to submit incidents of bike lane infractions which are posted online and entered into a database and mapped. As more people contribute, Whitehouse can create heatmaps to identify conflict zones, trends, and notify businesses that are repeat offenders.