Just in time for peak travel season, the Oregon Department of Transportation has released a new public service announcement (PSA) video to educate drivers on how to safely pass a bike rider.
The 30-second animated video was created and released by ODOT’s Traffic Safety Office.
Here’s the text of the narration, followed by my thoughts on the video below the jump:
“You know how your sideview mirror says ‘objects are closer than they appear’? Well, when you’re on a bicycle, passing vehicles can feel even closer. So when you’re passing someone on a bike, keep in mind the size of your vehicle. Remember to slow down and leave extra space. We call it ‘fall distance.’ It’s the room riders need in case they should fall. Also, people in bicycles can take the whole lane if they need to. So you’ll need to hold back patiently until it’s safe to pass. Because here in Oregon, we all want to get there safely.”
As far as government PSAs go, it actually looks pretty cool and does a good job laying out the issues around safe passing. One thing that bothered me was how the cars and trucks in the video had blacked-out tint on the windows. I realize that was probably an aesthetic choice by the animators, but it reinforces a really bad — and illegal! — behavior that is unfortunately all too common. It’s odd that they would show solidly tinted windows, especially in a video about passing, where seeing the person inside the car is often an important part of doing it safely.
The other part of this video that stood out to me was the explanation of “fall distance.” I think they did a great job of this both visually and in the narration. I don’t recall hearing that “fall distance” phrase before, but it’s a catchy and helpful way to educate people about our unique safe passing law (unlike most states, we don’t have a specific distance).
And it’s too bad that they couldn’t have waited a bit to incorporate something about the big revision to Oregon’s safe passing law that just passed this week. One reason Senate Bill 895 was created was to help clear up confusion in the public about what drivers are able to do in “no passing” zones on rural roads. A video like this would have been the perfect place to demonstrate that scenario and kickstart public education around it.
Hopefully this gets played a lot at DMVs on local TV newscasts, and so on.
Watch the video below and let us know what you think.