Spin calls for designs to reimagine protected mobility lanes

Posted: 23 April 2020 |

Spin, the micromobility unit of Ford Mobility, and Team Better Block have launched an open call for ideas about lane barriers that protect active forms of transportation in urban areas.


Spin and urban planning firm Team Better Block have launched the ‘Build a Better Barrier Challenge,’ an open call for individuals or teams around the world with experience in design, planning, and an interest in creating safer streets to develop ideas for protected lanes that prioritise pedestrians, rollerbladers, scooter and bike riders, and any other form of active transportation.

Amidst COVID-19, one of the challenges cities face is how to give people the freedom to move while allowing them adequate space for safe physical distancing. And as local governments start to develop plans to gradually reopen cities, it is said to be clear that physical distancing will continue to play an important role in transportation, which can further accelerate use of other individual modes of transportation like bikes and e-scooters, for those who can’t or don’t want to rely on private automobile ownership.

“With fewer cars on the road and a clear need for open spaces to allow people to safely exercise and move around their communities, many cities are looking to affordably and quickly repurpose road space. It’s clear that as cities plan to gradually reopen, bikes, e-scooters and other forms of solo transportation will be critical to continuing physical distancing,” said Kay Cheng, Director of Infrastructure Initiatives at Spin.

“Now more than ever, it will be important for cities to prepare for an increase in use and even encourage other modes of transportation by dedicating safe space on our streets. We hope the Better Barrier Challenge will provide interested cities with a barrier that better meets their needs in creating protected spaces for all forms of active transit, from walking to scooting and biking.”

Designs will be selected based on a number of factors including how well the design protects people from cars, maintenance costs, durability, affordability to all communities, sustainability of materials, and overall aesthetics. 

“Working on bike lane demonstration projects in many cities has made us aware of the limited options available for barriers that separate bike lanes from vehicular lanes,” said Zoey Mauck, Urban Designer at Team Better Block. “We are seeking new ideas for how to create safer streets that are both attractive and affordable. Through this competition, we hope to find a better barrier design that can be piloted in cities across the nation, furthering our mission of creating accessible and safe streets for all.”

Once all submissions have been received by 12 June, 11 judges, from a variety of backgrounds related to street infrastructure, product design, and fabrication, will evaluate the submissions. Three barrier designs will be selected as finalists and fabricated by Team Better Block in partnership with Spin. Of these three, a top design will be selected as the grand prize winner, and will be fabricated and installed in future projects across the country once it is safe to do so. The grand prize winner will also receive a $500 cash prize.