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Bike Month winding down, but the need for bike safety remains

Bike Month winding down, but the need for bike safety remains

As many Fast Lane readers know, May is --among other things-- Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. Earlier here in the Fast Lane, we blogged about efforts to teach teen drivers how to share the road safely with commercial trucks and buses. But May is also National Bike Month, and we want to make sure that those riding bicycles stay safe.

The fact is, there are more and more bicyclists on America's roads these days. We think that's a good thing for the health and pocketbooks of riders and for local air quality and businesses. But at the same time, we've seen an increase in the number of bicyclists killed in crashes, so we've got a lot of bike safety work ahead.

Fortunately, we get a lot of help from safety organizations around the country. They have worked to educate people about appropriate safety measures. For example, the Marin County Bike Coalition (MCBC) and WalkBike Marin have put together a Share The Road guide that asks drivers as well as bicyclists to "Be safe and courteous."

Bike month logo

That's sound advice because safety is a mutual responsibility. It might start with the law, but it requires more than that from all of us. Bicyclists can work harder to stay out of drivers' blind spots and be more predictable when changing lanes or going through intersections. And drivers can work harder to be more observant in areas where bicycles may be present –and nowadays, that's everywhere.

That’s why the Marin County flyer offer codes of conduct for drivers and bicyclists that are based on common sense and respect.

That's also why the “Roll Model” campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages everyone to model safe behaviors that enhance the safety of all road users. Whether you're a motorist or bicyclist, a parent, grandparent, adult, or youth, you can be a "Roll Model" to decrease the risks of traffic crashes and preventable injuries and deaths. NHTSA invites you to adopt this campaign as your own to engage adults, teens, and young people to do the right--safe!--thing when riding or driving.

Photo collage of different people on bikes from Roll Model website

DOT organizations like NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration also have a wealth of safety information available for young bicyclists and their parents. And there's no time like the beginning of summer--when kids will soon be out in force on two wheels--for parents to let kids know how to make themselves safer.

From always wearing a helmet to staying focused to obeying the rules of the road, NHTSA's "Roll Model" campaign has bike safety covered. And the League of American Bicyclists' education website has valuable resources for adult bicyclists wanting to Ride Smart.

Photo of instructor teaching bike safety to young students

For parents and educators looking for bike safety teaching tools, the FHWA's Bicycle Safer Journey site offers lessons that are geared to three different age groups from 5 to 18. And Shape America (from the Society of Health and Physical Educators) has a very thorough Bikeology curriculum.

Finally, NHTSA offers a great Safety Pledge for parents to sign in front of their kids—there’s one for kids, too—so they understand that you take safety seriously.

No matter how you get where you’re going this month, and every month, we want readers to know that safety is no accident.

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Comments

Dear DOT, I don't like to complain but I'm going to put my foot down at this nonsensical campaign of "sharing the road". Please stop it. One cannot share anything where one group bears a disproportionate weight of harming another group that cannot possibly rise up to defend themselves without external and equal protection(I refer here to cyclists and drivers). One could argue that this campaign of "sharing the road" is a health intervention and one where one group of individuals is going to get killed if the majority doesn't feel like sharing. If you are going to promote health interventions, at least have the gall to promote something effective and plausible: look to other nations to see how they have effectively cut serious injuries and road deaths - none of them pushed "sharing" without a huge investment in road re-design. When it comes to road design, the highway engineers have had a massive influence in how to prevent road deaths (for drivers). When it comes to non-drivers the answer has been a bunch of worthless PSAs designed to maybe inspire a small minority of do-gooders. If you want to have any relevance or credibility in an effort to make transportation an effort that doesn't needlessly kill one group (who is expected to share their space) while ignoring the effects of the other, stop promoting "share the road". Sharing the road is a one-sided message. Please move forward to the 21st century. Thanks.