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Old 05-05-08, 10:10 AM   #1
TXChick
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How to educate fellow adult cyclists?

Several months ago, I got into a quasi-shouting match with a guy on a bicycle and I've been pondering it ever since.

I was actually in a car, stopped at a four-way stop sign in a residential area. There weren't any streetlights and it was about 10:00 at night, so it was really dark. There were cars on all four sides, but it was my turn to go. Thank God there was a car to my right with headlights on, because as I started to pull forward I saw a shadow in front of those headlights. It was a guy--an adult--wearing dark clothes, on a bike, painted black, with no reflectors, no light, riding toward me in my lane. I slammed on my brakes as soon as I realized there was something coming at me and if all that wasn't bad enough, as he passed between my car and the curb, he yelled through my open window, "You need to move the f*%$ over!" Well, I was having an adrenaline rush from nearly having plowed over someone and that pissed me off. So I yelled back, "You need to get in the right lane." And he yelled back as he got further away, "I am in the right lane, you idiot!"

I was shaken up for awhile after that. It would be a terrible nightmare to hit a cyclist with my car, even if it wasn't my fault! But it got me thinking about bike safety for adults. We have a program for elementary students here. I checked with the police department and our local bike club to see if there were any adult programs and there aren't. The guy at the police department said they tried it once some years back and no one showed up. I suggested putting bike rules and regulations and safety tips in the paper, but nothing came of it. I know some people at the paper, so now I'm thinking about telling them that story and seeing if they'll do a story.

Does your city have anything for adult bike riders? Are they successful at all?
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Old 05-05-08, 10:25 AM   #2
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(I just want to add this guy might have just been an idiot.)
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Old 05-05-08, 10:39 AM   #3
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What would you want to teach people that was not in a short pamphlet?

http://waba.org/areabiking/safecycling/
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Old 05-05-08, 10:50 AM   #4
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I think I'd just like the short pamphlet. I wonder our bike club could sponsor having some printed. I can't find a local safety brochure, but it couldn't be that hard to put one together. Then they could be handed out.

Does anyone know if that sort of thing works? They might just end up on the ground, or you might make someone angry by insinuating (or pointing out) that they don't know what they're doing.
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Old 05-05-08, 11:02 AM   #5
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It would be a terrible nightmare to hit a cyclist with my car, even if it wasn't my fault!
It sounds to me that if something had happened, you would merely have been an Agent of Darwin.

Seriously, though, around here most of the bikers such as you described are simply POBs due to judicial fiat -- in other words, they lost their license for drunk driving. They've already amply demonstrated their inability to follow the law regarding motor vehicles, and any safe cycling education is likely to fall on the same besotted ears as their court-mandated alcohol abuse education.

There may be a few who are genuinely aiming for utility cycling, but it's probably not cost-effective to reach them. They will either get offed or learn, just like the rest of us had to.
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Old 05-05-08, 11:20 AM   #6
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I think I'd just like the short pamphlet. I wonder our bike club could sponsor having some printed. I can't find a local safety brochure, but it couldn't be that hard to put one together. Then they could be handed out.

Does anyone know if that sort of thing works? They might just end up on the ground, or you might make someone angry by insinuating (or pointing out) that they don't know what they're doing.
I think you are better off sticking to people who are interested in picking up tips from others than randomly passing out the pamphlets. More generally, if you want hard evidence beyond anecdotal experiences and descriptive statistics on cycling -- judging from my reading and experience -- you are out of luck.

I understand that most cycling organizations are happy to share their safety and information pamphlets. I think that John Allen has a template ready for others to use. If you like the pretty WABA pamphlet, send them an e-mail. I would be surprised if they were unwilling to share.
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Old 05-05-08, 11:40 AM   #7
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Well, I don't want to be the bike police. Thanks for your input.
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Old 05-05-08, 11:49 AM   #8
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(Although I'm still going to look into getting pamphlets. They might be handy at health fairs and such. We have a bunch of those around here!)
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Old 05-05-08, 12:09 PM   #9
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Does your city have anything for adult bike riders? Are they successful at all?
San Diego has... but the cyclists have to seek it to find it... none of the local bike shops (at least two years ago) know anything about this.

http://www.sdcbc.org/ see the link on classes.
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Old 05-05-08, 12:25 PM   #10
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Biggest threat to people accepting responsabilty for their actions, or learning the safe and correct way to do something is that all too often people doing stupid things get rich from lawsuits.
People take the safety gaurds off machinary, lose a finger or hand and get a few million plus disability because of it. Careless drivers trash their car/truck/bike by driving recklessly, get a new car, paid 'sick' leave etc or the same benefits as the careless machine operator

responsable people?, all they do is get to work and make their car payments and support the careless ones. There's financial incentive for being 'stupid', common sense can't compete with that.

No idea how many times I've heard the phrase "that's what insurance is for" At work, I'm religious about taking care of my tools at the end of the day, I load them up and put them back in my truck, A LOT of big companies I've worked with at the end of the day they walk off and leave the tools scattered all over the job site.( WTF?? you aren't putting the tools away? "that's why I have insurance" )

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Old 05-05-08, 12:33 PM   #11
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I yelled back, "You need to get in the right lane."
Would have been better if you cited that it is against the local/city/state (whichever applies) law to #1: Ride against traffic, and #2: Ride without proper lighting.

This said, whether cycling or driving - expect the most unexpected at all times. That goes for wrong way cyclists running against traffic at night. This technique has saved me more then once in both situations - call it paranoid (it isn't, once you train yourself), but it works.

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Old 05-05-08, 12:39 PM   #12
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Would have been better if you cited that it is against the local/city/state (whichever applies) law to #1: Ride against traffic, and #2: Ride without proper lighting.
Yes, this is true. I was about to have a heart attack and wasn't thinking that fast.

genec--thanks for the link!

(Invisible--that is an adorable baby!)
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Old 05-05-08, 12:47 PM   #13
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Yes, this is true. I was about to have a heart attack and wasn't thinking that fast.
I know the feeling. Always helps to pause and take a deep breath immidiately after the shock.

Incidentally, I also forgot to mention that it particularly helps to cite the section # of the statutes that apply to cyclists afterwards.

i.e.: If they contest your statement:

"I'm sorry, that is not the case. You might want to look up Florida state statute 316.2065 - you might find it quite enlightening." (Change state and statute # to whatever is applicable to you).

It usually floors both cyclists and motorists, if they're listening. Shuts down the conversation to the point that you can drive/cycle away without further escalation of the argument.

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Old 05-05-08, 12:49 PM   #14
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I'll have to look that stuff up. I might need to call PD or city hall for that.
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Old 05-05-08, 12:50 PM   #15
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(Invisible--that is an adorable baby!)
Thanks ... a baby definitely changes one's perspective on a lot of things.
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Old 05-05-08, 01:03 PM   #16
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(I just want to add this guy might have just been an idiot.)
no might about. he certainly was
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Old 05-05-08, 01:04 PM   #17
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Yes, this is true. I was about to have a heart attack and wasn't thinking that fast.

genec--thanks for the link!

(Invisible--that is an adorable baby!)
Hey here is something out of Austin... I know that is no where near Amarillo, but it is sure closer then the west coast.

http://www.urbancycling.com/

Maybe folks in Dallas have something. At any rate, I suspect you'll have to get outta the panhandle to find anything significant.
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Old 05-05-08, 01:07 PM   #18
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At any rate, I suspect you'll have to get outta the panhandle to find anything significant.
Ya think?

Thanks for finding that stuff!
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Old 05-05-08, 01:44 PM   #19
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Does your city have anything for adult bike riders? Are they successful at all?
As long as the rider isn't listening, it will be tough to educate him. In cases like this, I would be more inclined to have the city enforce wrong-way cycling laws as well as laws for lights. I live in a college town and each year we have a new group of college freshmen. During some years we've had campus police increase enforcement in the fall as a new crowd of invincible youth arrive. [Not saying that your cyclist was a student, but that is the equivalent way of addressing things I've seen here].

During the interaction with him, if he were at least listening a bit, the best message for him to hear would have been:
* you are not visible
* riding opposite traffic makes you appear where not expected
and the combination of the two is particularly dangerous. Given the adrenaline of the situation, it is tough to get that message across, hence my bias towards an enforcement approach at least as much as an education approach (though part of the enforcement can be education of why this law was enforced).

We've had some education with bike clubs, particularly in the fall about lights as the time changes and also club rides where we're showing people where/how to ride safely. Unfortunately, sometimes those who listen least are those who need it the most.
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Old 05-05-08, 02:15 PM   #20
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I don't drive all that much but when I do I'm a surprisingly frustrated driver. I can't believe how horribly other people drive. I've learned to avoid, ignore, deal, whatever... with cars when I'm on my bike and don't blow my cool nearly so much as when I drive.

I think part of the tension of driving a car is that not only could I get killed or hurt but I could kill or hurt someone else and that's really scary. I know that hurting someone else when I'm on my bike isn't completely out of the realm of possibility but far more remote.


But people can be stupid- whether they're in a car or on a bike. I find myself ranting more about drivers than cyclists but either way it's stupid people- there are stupid pedestrians, too.

You crossed paths with a stupid person. No matter what you yelled- I might have yelled, "Get a light!" my most common rant at cyclists whether I'm in a car or on the bike and almost slam into one I can't see. I don't think this does too much good to tell you the truth. But it makes the yeller feel better. Arguing with them any further only makes them feel more self-righteous. Educate them? I think a pamphlet is great idea. I'd attach a few pamphlets to bricks with some string and hurl them at idiots like this guy in the hopes he might read it if it hit him hard enough in the head.-kidding! just kidding!
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Old 05-05-08, 03:53 PM   #21
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Ride with them? In all honestly people will take you more seriously as a friend than as some stranger telling them what to do.
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Old 05-05-08, 04:58 PM   #22
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Passing out pamphlets is not far from being like the Mormon kids walking around town, honestly. Trying to spout off a five-second education from a car (an "opponent" to any cyclist, really) takes practice, concentration, a willing listener, and just the right traffic & noise situation. Not everybody goes to bike shops, obviously, so all the pamphlets and advocacy literature they have goes unnoticed (and if it's noticed at all, it's practically preaching to the choir).

I'd say to get that stuff on the bike sales racks at Wal-Mart. No more than three words on the cover in a huge typeface, and no more than three key points -- each no more than five or six words long -- in the first page.

And, please, without the phrase, "Bike Safety Tips". Ugh. So vanilla, so Office Space/preschool/activist, it's not going to draw attention from anybody besides parents -- and people always try doing the opposite of what their parents say.
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Old 05-05-08, 05:51 PM   #23
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(I just want to add this guy might have just been an idiot.)
That is probably about 75% of the wrong way riders I see. I wish local PD's would do a better job of community service than they currently do.

I see one guy every morning about the same time same place. He riding the shoulder, wrong side of the road at 0530. He IS wearing a safety vest and helmet, but the bike has no lights and no front reflector that I have seen. I usually see the pedal reflectors first, then the vest (it is apparently not a good one). The local PD has nothing that I am aware of in the form of cycling information or education.

This a pet peeve of mine!

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Old 05-05-08, 06:17 PM   #24
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Ya think?

Thanks for finding that stuff!
Hey if you really want some info to study or to consider making a pamphlet with... consider this site:
http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/index.htm

But ask first before you use anything.

What you might want to consider is paraphrasing some of the ideas, and then referencing John Allen's work with URLs... as others have said, anything too fancy won't be read... so really you are looking to make say a 8X10 folded into thirds kind of flyer that can have brief bold points... and ultimately leading to a URL like John Allen's stuff.

Good luck
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Old 05-06-08, 03:38 PM   #25
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Does your city have anything for adult bike riders? Are they successful at all?
The League of American Bicyclists offers its Bike Education program, based on Forester's Effective Cycling principles, and certifies instructors to teach it. Check http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/education/index.php.

That being said, folks aren't exactly standing in line to take Bike Ed courses. In my experience, most of the newer, novice cyclists take it to heart and use it to improve their traffic skills and survivability. Recidivism is most common among racers and active club cyclists, who have a lot more bad habits to try and lose.
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