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  1. #1
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Most effective safety advocacy

    This is an outgrowth of the Another Death thread. It really bothers me that that accident probably would not have happened, at least not in the same way, if this guy had been riding the correct way. I'm composing a Letter to the Editor explaining about why one should ride with traffic (incorporating a lot of the explanations you all have provided on the other thread - thank you!), but I'm also thinking how else to reach people.

    To do any more than write a letter, I think we'll need a group that is capable of funding advertising and stuff like that. We have a pretty good bike club here in Maine, plus we have a bicycle and pedestrian advocate in our state government (who I've met), so I think we are capable of mounting that kind of effort. And, it's possible both of those groups already do stuff like that, but maybe we can do more.

    My question is, what is the most effective? I'm imagining that the best overall strategy is a combination of media - radio, TV, paper, and public spaces. But do any of you have an opinion about what can reach the most people, or the right people? Have there been any studies done on this?

  2. #2
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    My question is, what is the most effective? I'm imagining that the best overall strategy is a combination of media - radio, TV, paper, and public spaces. But do any of you have an opinion about what can reach the most people, or the right people? Have there been any studies done on this?
    I guess you need to figure out whether you want "the most" or "the right" people. If you want "the most", by all means, call the media. They love blood, guts, and scare tactics (I saw a feature last night proclaming hamsters to be carriers of TOXIC BACTERIA!!!). But they're not terribly effective at changing things.

    If you want "the right" people, you might try contacting your local, state, and federal representives (e.g. city/town council, house/senate reps, etc.). It should not take much Googling to find those. Since they call the shots on laws and can influence enforcement of them, they would seem the most effective for actually getting something changed. You can't fight city hall, but you can use them to help you fight, sometimes.

  3. #3
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Not sure if this was the 'club' you were refering to, but the MBC is the statewide bicycle advocacy group:

    Maine Bicycle Coalition: http://www.bikemaine.org/

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    I know of at least one effort to form a national vehicular cycling organization, but efforts to get it launched have stalled due to various reasons. Some information on this effort can be found at http://www.bicycledriving.com.

    The organization that once effectively represented the rights of vehicular cyclists is the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). Their website is bikeleague.org. Despite a strong emphasis in the organization on "facilities" for cyclists (bike paths, lanes, etc.), they still have some good information, and do have a decent education program. They do of course teach that cyclists should ride with, not against, the flow of traffic.

    The problem is that there is very little interest in cycling education. You have to realize you have something to learn before you can get interested in learning it, and most cyclists don't realize how much they have to learn. And I'm not just talking about the ones who don't even realize they should not ride against the flow of traffic. Anyway, lack of interest means lack of money (for advertising, etc.).

    But if we all do what we can, perhaps change will come. For myself, I've organized a cycliing safety seminar at work and I'm representing cycling safety education interests in my local bike club and the local bicycle coalition.

    Serge

  5. #5
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 'nother
    If you want "the right" people, you might try contacting your local, state, and federal representives (e.g. city/town council, house/senate reps, etc.). It should not take much Googling to find those. Since they call the shots on laws and can influence enforcement of them, they would seem the most effective for actually getting something changed.
    I'm not talking about passing laws or building infrastructure, I'm talking about educating the cycling and potential cycling public on how to ride safely. When I say "most people" or "right people", the question is do you target as many people as possible in the general public, in the hopes that that will include the cyclists or friends/family thereof, or do you imagine the best ways to reach just the cyclists (maybe through the LBS' or even big box stores that sell bikes) and concentrate on that. I'm leaning that way.


    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    Not sure if this was the 'club' you were refering to, but the MBC is the statewide bicycle advocacy group.
    Yup, that's the one. I was a member until it lapsed recently, I'll probably join again now. I see from their site that there just happens to be a previously scheduled fundraiser for their Safety & Education Program at a local restaurant this Tuesday, and that I can get trained to be a safety instructor in the school system, so I can take advantage of that too.

  6. #6
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    If anyone is interested, here is the Letter to the Editor I just submitted to our local paper:
    As a bicycle commuter of over 2 years, I was saddened to read of the death of cyclist Kevin Spaulding in an accident on Wednesday, January 6. It is especially tragic to reflect on the fact that he was riding against traffic, as I believe that this was probably a contributing factor to the accident. Because going against traffic is the recommended direction for pedestrians, many people may conclude that it is the same for bikes. However, bicycle safety advocates, and most experienced cyclists, would strongly disagree. Cyclists move much faster than pedestrians, and cannot stop or change direction on a dime, two important differences.

    It has been said that the two most important considerations in bicycling with traffic are visibility and predictability. Riding against traffic violates both of these. Drivers are not expecting to see a bicycle riding against them, and psychologists know that it is very easy to miss something you are not looking for. Even if a driver is looking in that position prior to moving into the intersection, a fast cyclist could move into the area between the time the driver looks and the time he turns. Finally, if the driver does see the cyclist, he has no idea what the cyclist is going to do, because the cyclist is already not operating as a normal moving vehicle.

    Also consider the relative speeds involved. A driver moving at 35 MPH and a bicyclist approaching him at 15 MPH are moving towards each other at a combined speed of 50! On the other hand, if the cyclist is riding with traffic at 15, cars going 35 will overtake the cyclist at a relative speed of only 20. That makes for fewer driver/cyclist interactions in the same amount of time, at slower speeds, thus increasing the margin of error and decreasing potential damage should a collision occur.

    It is not my intention to place blame or diminish the loss felt by Spaulding's friends and family. In fact, I want to do what I can to make sure that it doesn't happen again. To that end, I encourage all cyclists to educate themselves on safe riding. Read John Forester's "Effective Cycling", or Robert Hurst's "The Art of Urban Cycling". On the web, you can go to www.bicyclesafe.com, google for "vehicular cycling", or read discussion on safety issues at www.bikeforums.net. If your friend or family member rides, please show this letter to them. Thank you.
    Thanks to everyone who commented on the original thread, from which I lifted a lot of this information! And yes, I will try to read Forester's book myself soon!

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    Excellent letter, John.

    Now see if you can write a similar letter explaining the dangers of bike lanes rather than the dangers of riding the wrong way. Lots of good material on this in the Anti-bike lane people: what's wrong with this picture? thread in the Commuting forum.

    Serge

  8. #8
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Good letter. Concise and straightforward. Hopefully the newspaper will select your letter for publication.

  9. #9
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serge *******
    Now see if you can write a similar letter explaining the dangers of bike lanes rather than the dangers of riding the wrong way.
    Serge, either you're playing the teacher, or trying to get me to provide free material for re-use elsewhere!

    I don't know if I have that in me right away. Having less (actually, zero) experience with bike lanes, that would be more of a research project for me than a personal testimony, as the first letter feels like. And I have to say the circumstances provided me a stronger motivation for that one, whereas this would just be fulfilling your assignment. So I'll keep it in mind, although it probably won't happen right away.

    Speaking of circumstance, though, are there any stats about accidents where the cyclist was actually in the bike lane, or maybe just leaving one? That would definitely bolster the anti-bike laner's arguments.

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