People who bike in the District, across the US, and as far away as Australia responded to the death of cyclist and safe street advocate Dave Salovesh on Friday, April 26 by using red cups to illustrate how vulnerable bicyclists are without separated infrastructure. Participants placed red cups (or in some places, tomatoes or potatoes) along unprotected or unpainted bike lanes. Sometimes, drivers ran over the cups in a matter of minutes.
Salovesh had used red cups method to mark out bike lanes in DC. He died after being struck on his bicycle by a driver in a stolen van evading DC police on Florida Avenue NE. The viral protest was started by a group of social media-savvy bike advocates across the US in response to Salovesh's death, and subsequently spread around the world.
The crushed cups are a powerful illustration of how painted bicycle lanes, while helpful, don't protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Using the hashtags #RedCupProject, #PaintIsNotProtection, and #DemandMore, advocates demanded that policymakers improve road infrastructure so that people don't die while bicycling.
Global Call to Action:— Jonathan Fertig (@rightlegpegged) April 24, 2019
This Friday, 4/26
Place red cups along a bike lane or intersection that you want to see protected.
Join advocates everywhere to #DemandMore.#RedCupProject pic.twitter.com/IcMXzUozNV
Although many local advocates were busy preparing for a rally at the Wilson building, some took part in the project in DC:
If you doubt that individuals have the power to create change, follow #RedCupProject honoring @darsal today. Around the country, people are fighting for safer roads w/ small but effective acts modeled by Dave. It’s up to leaders to listen & prove our actions can match our words. pic.twitter.com/gbpR6PFNYz— Charles Allen (@charlesallen) April 26, 2019
Elsewhere on the East Coast, advocates in Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, and Cambridge posted photos:
the #RedCupProject is the most impactful bike/ped awareness campaigns ever. The idea that the person rising in pic 1 could never survive the impacts that destroyed the cups in pic 2 is POWERFUL & must inspire faster + better infasteucifastructure deployment in PGH ��: @BikePGH pic.twitter.com/Q1QlVh688T— Sean C. Luther (@Tooluther) April 26, 2019
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. We’d think that was ridiculous. And yet planners think nothing of “protecting” bike lanes with paint. #demandmore #RedCupProject pic.twitter.com/UtVCq6iZZ7— Doug Gordon (@BrooklynSpoke) April 26, 2019
Today, grassroots advocates around the world are placing red paper cups along bike lanes where protection is needed. The #RedCupProject is in honor of Dave Salovesh, a D.C. advocate killed while riding his bike. We #DemandMore. pic.twitter.com/YL77V1xPOv— Peter Cheung (@bostonaruban) April 26, 2019
THREAD: got a jump on the #RedCupProject and put some biodegradable cups filled with diluted powerade down on the stretch of somerville ave near the Porter Square T stop in @CambMA (as it's a pretty dangerous area for cyclists) pic.twitter.com/HarZ7scAfs— density’s child���������� (@drooliet) April 26, 2019
People in Seattle, LA, and Boise also took part:
Venice Boulevard is the connection to the Expo Line/path and one of the only bike routes across LA. Would you want your loved ones biking here? We have to #DemandMore. #RedCupProject pic.twitter.com/umXiqMKIGs— Rabi Abonour (@rabonour) April 26, 2019
#RedCupProject shows why #PaintIsNotProtection. Boise joined people all over the world to show that protected bike lanes matter. It would of for @darsal, who died last week & started the red cup project. #demandmore @CityOfBoise @ACHD @IdahoWalkBike @MayorBieter @laurenmclean pic.twitter.com/nNgLwFrs7K— BoiseStreetsDept (@BoiseStreetDept) April 26, 2019
And Canadians got in on it too.
This is near the spot in @CityOfNorthVan where Mike MacIntosh was killed when he was forced out of the bike lane under the wheels of a truck. Esplanade is a key east-west bike commuting corridor in #northvan. Would you want a loved one riding here? #RedCupProject #FixEsplanade pic.twitter.com/ZsDQqAVzIb— Martyn Schmoll (@martynschmoll) April 26, 2019
It even spread to Australia.
In memory of US cycling advocate David Salovesh: red paper cups on Sylvan Rd, Toowoong are no match for passing cars. #PaintisNotProtection Sylvan Road links two of Brisbane's best bikeways, with protection it would be a part of a true cycle super-highway. pic.twitter.com/qc7LBmNcOl— space4cyclingbne (@space4cyclingbn) April 26, 2019
Many people posted followup pictures of drivers running over the cups.
We did the #RedCupProject (@darsal) on Cesar Chavez in SF tonight. A commuter enjoys the Potato Protected Lane for 5 minutes before cars destroyed it at 50mph. This lane is perilous and needs protection. @shamannwalton @sfmta_muni @LondonBreed pic.twitter.com/E2d3cRO1DQ— RK (@MayUseFullLane) April 27, 2019
Every time a driver crosses into the bike lane it puts a human life at risk. These fragile cups represent fragile lives. Please remember to respect all users on the road. #RedCupProject #DemandMore pic.twitter.com/hTevaHRkyL— BoiseStreetsDept (@BoiseStreetDept) April 26, 2019
Salovesh’s death comes during a period both nationally and locally marked by increases in bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities by drivers.
Data from the US Department of Transportation shows that the number of bicyclists killed by drivers increased by 25% nationally from an all-time low in 2010. During that same period, the number of pedestrians killed by drivers increased by 39%. In 2017, which is the last year of available data, 777 bicyclists and 5,977 pedestrians were killed by drivers.
According to the District Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero Data, in 2018 three bicyclists and 15 pedestrians, including one person on an e-scooter, were killed by drivers.
The #RedCupProject is a form of tactical urbanism, which encourages temporary and often unsanctioned public installations that many times serve to demonstrate where street safety improvements can be made.
In another recent example of tactical urbanism, two DC residents painted their own crosswalk at an unmarked crossing near where pedestrian Abdul Seck was killed by a driver on April 21.
On Friday, @suederaincoat and I had a conversation about my 6 month old request for @DDOTDC to come paint two crosswalks on 16th St SE. He said he would buy the supplies and paint the crosswalk. He ran out of paint, but he got one crosswalk done and I appreciate that. pic.twitter.com/P7dvZVW5Pz— ron. (@rondtjr) April 28, 2019