Connecting Birmingham’s Smithfield and Titusville neighborhoods via bike lane explored by Zyp Bikeshare

Smithfield and Titusville residents trying out a new bike lane connecting their communities. Photo from Zyp Bikeshare

Earlier this month, the Smithfield Library was the place to be as neighborhood residents participated in one of Birmingham’s first Tactical Urbanism Pop Ups presented by Zyp Bikeshare. The “pop-up” was used to explore connecting the Smithfield and Titusville neighborhoods with a new bike lane.

What is a “Tactical Urbanism Pop-up”

Tactical urbanism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places. Zyp Bikeshare held the pop-up event to bring attention to the need for enhanced biking infrastructure in the community.

Smithfield and Titusville

The Smithfield and Titusville neighborhoods were chosen for the tactical urbanism project by Zyp Bikeshare because of the history of these neighborhoods and the opportunity to better connect the city.

“The idea behind our tactical urbanism pop-up was to highlight the available space on Center Street that could safely accommodate both cars and bicycles and to get input from the community about their perceptions of bicycling,” said Keith Rawls, REV’s Director of Zyp Bikeshare. Their (local residents of Smithfield and Titusville) feedback helps Zyp better understand the communities’ needs and desires when it comes to biking in their neighborhood, and we’re able to share that information with city decision makers as well.”

Neighborhood tested
Temporary bike lane created as part of the Urban tactical popup. Photo by Zyp Bikeshare

Zyp designed and tested a safe bike route from Smithfield’s library Zyp station to Titusville’s Memorial Park station beside the newly opened community pool. More than 70 people participated and 50 surveys were completed, giving Zyp valuable community feedback that can be presented to city decision makers in an effort to advocate for infrastructure changes Smithfield and Titusville desire to see. Local radio station 95.7 JAMZ provided live coverage and prizes for participants.

“Zyp Bikeshare has a station at Smithfield Library and at Memorial Park in Titusville. But neither neighborhood has streets with dedicated bike lanes, which go a long way in creating safe conditions for bicyclists of all ages,” added Rawls. “Our team, along with other cycling-related organizations in our city, jumps at opportunities to engage communities and demonstrate the need for more bike-friendly infrastructure in Birmingham.”

The Tactical Urbanism project in the Smithfield and Titusville communities was made possible after Zyp Bikeshare received a Safe Routes To Parks grant to improve community access to parks and recreation. Birmingham was 1 of 10 cities in America chosen to lead this charge.

Residents of Smithfield and Titusville try out a temporary bike lane. Photo by Zyp Bikeshare
The results and next steps

Overall, local residents provided positive feedback on the viability of a potential bike lane that would connect the Smithfield and Titusville communities. According Zyp Bikeshare, all of the participants gave a resounding thumbs up to enhancing the road for bikes.

Now, armed with constructive and positive feedback from the community, Zyp Bikeshare  intends to work with  local neighborhoods and the city to move a bike lane connecting the Smithfield and Titusville communities forward.

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.