Cycling safety advocates get creative with cardboard cut-outs to emphasise safety issues

Eight large cut-outs appeared strategically placed on Massachusetts Avenue with cycling safety messages

Cut-out on Massachusetts Avenue (Credit: Jonathan Fertig)

Late Sunday evening in Boston, Massachusetts, cycling advocates got creative in their demands for bicycle infrastructure safety.

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Along sections of the heavily trafficked Massachusetts Avenue, eight large cartoon cut-outs with cycling safety messages were strategically placed in between the bike lane and traffic by Jonathan Fertig and friends.

One of the cut-outs, located at the intersection of Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue depicted a cartoon version of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Massachusetts born actor Matt Damon.

Featuring a sequence of comic book-style text bubbles, each cut-out displayed witty banter about the needs of increased bicycle safety in the city.

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“Let’s keep this area clear for swinging doors and my swinging legs!” one of the messages read above a dancing person.

Another displayed a woman wearing a helmet and asking drivers to use care when opening their doors into bike lanes in order to avoid the dreaded “dooring” accidents.

Fertig, the visionary behind this guerrilla style marketing and art project, along with a group of friends, posted pictures of himself on Twitter installing the artistic “buffering” cut-outs. The project had been in works for months according to Fertig.

“Buffers can be much more than just paint,” Fertig wrote on Twitter, including the hashtag #DemandMore.

He collaborated with local artist and cyclist Bekka Wright to design the life sized cut-outs printed on waterproof paper and adhered to sturdy gator boards. The boards were attached to metal fence posts, placed in cement buckets and covered with flowers.

Described as “tactical urbanism”, by Fertig and his group of advocates, they come as a response to Mayor Walsh’s comments about cyclists needing to pay more attention during an interview on WGBH-FM radio last week.

Walsh said bikers and pedestrians “need to be more cognizant of the fact that a car is a car.

“Pedestrians need to put their head up when they’re walking down the street, take your headphones off. You’ve got to understand, cars are going to hit you,” he said during an interview on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio.

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“He was minimizing the importance of infrastructure change and the responsibility of the city to change the culture of our streets,” Becca Wolfson of the Boston Cyclists Union told CBS Boston.

Walsh’s comments came just two weeks after local cyclist Rick Archer was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Back Bay.

“I hope that people who are riding around the city see that there are people who are fighting with them,” Fertig told the Boston Globe.

“And I hope to raise the issue that there’s a couple of different ways of viewing our streets, and they can be beautiful places full of art.”

As of 8:30 a.m EST Monday, the cartoon cut-outs remained in place on Massachusetts Avenue and the mayor’s office declined to comment on whether they would be removed according the Boston Globe.

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