Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 20th, 2009 at 11:04 am
“While we are working to improve conditions for bicyclists on the roadways, let’s, please, remember the culture we’ve created over the last 100 years will not welcome bikes overnight.”
— From the US DOT blog
Came across an article on bike safety published to the official blog of the U.S. Department of Transportation this morning (which is unfortunately called “Welcome to the Fast Lane”). Since May is National Bike Month, the US DOT found it fitting to remind folks on both sides of the windshield that safety should be the top priority.
A blog post about bike safety isn’t usually news, but when it comes from the US DOT I think it’s worth noting how they approach the topic.
The basic gist of the article is, ‘hey, we all know bikes are great, but this new push get more people on them will only work out if people don’t run into each other’.
“As this Administration works to develop environmentally-sound transportation options, making our streets more bike-friendly is high on the list,”
the DOT adds,
“But, as more people take to bicycling, that idea can only be sound when drivers and cyclists help each other share the roads safely.
And they share these tips for “motorists”:
* Recognize that bicyclists have a right to ride on the roadway;
* Stay alert and keep distractions to a minimum;
* Make a complete visual check for bicyclists before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
It’s great they made it clear that bikes have a right to be on the roadway. But what’s with, “Keep distractions to a minimum”? How about “Do not drive while distracted”?
And here are the tips for “bicyclists”:
But, bicyclists have an obligation as well. They should:
* Ride on the roadway, rather than on sidewalks;
* Follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles;
* Wear a bicycle helmet every time you ride;
* Make yourself visible, day and night.
Sidewalk riding is indeed dangerous, but unfortunately in many parts of our country it’s the only viable — and safe — option. Sidewalk riding is also a common focus of anti-bike rants, so it’s too bad that more isn’t done to explain why people do it.
Then, after pointing out links to bike safety information resources (for some reason they didn’t point to any car driving safety websites), the DOT went on to write (emphasis mine):
We all know about “defensive driving.” But, bicyclists are vulnerable and exposed in a way that motorists simply are not. While we are working to improve conditions for bicyclists on the roadways, let’s, please, remember the culture we’ve created over the last 100 years will not welcome bikes overnight. In the meantime, during National Bike Safety Month and throughout the year, I urge you to “bike defensively.”
I like that part about how our entrenched car culture “won’t welcome bikes overnight.” That’s true, and it’s good to be honest about where things stand.
Read the whole article here.