We were going to like the Armadillo even if it didn’t have a very practical purpose. C’mon, it’s a recycled bit of bike infrastructure named after an animal — basically the Grist List trifecta. But those little plastic bumps have a real purpose, too: They’re an easy way for commitment-phobic cities to create semi-separated bike lanes.
It’s a gentler reminder to drivers than a concrete curb, says Anthony Lau, managing director at Cyclehoop, the company that makes the product. “They’re not very high, so if a driver strays in the road they’ll just feel a bump and move away from the edge. It’s not like driving over concrete, which would just destroy your wheel.” Ambulances and other emergency vehicles could drive over the separator if necessary.
Plus, installing a horde of Armadillos is cheaper than creating an actual separated bike lane. The only way this could be better is if it featured actual armadillos. But we’re not so sure their armor can hold up as well as plastic against cars, or if they could be convinced to stay in so straight a line.