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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Educating and enforcing

The League of Illinois Bicyclists recently sent resources to Illinois police and sheriff's departments in an effort to educate and enforce the sharing of roads between cyclists and motorists.

The poster shown at left is part of that effort. It encourages officers and deputies to know the most frequent offenses by motorists and bicyclists. You can see a larger version of it by clicking on the image or by downloading the full-size version (19 x 27 inches, PDF format).

I think the poster, along with the PowerPoint presentation called "Safe Roads for Bicycling" (also available in a PDF format) and other materials posted at LIB's site, fairly presents the problems that cyclists and motorists create for each other. Among the materials is the new Illinois bike law card (PDF file) that includes the law that goes in effect Jan. 1 that requires motorists to give at least 3 feet of space when passing a cyclist.

The accidents that are caused by inattentive or impaired motorists that kill or seriously injure cyclists get the most attention by the bicycle advocacy community, and deservedly so. But the reality of the situation is that cyclists themselves sometimes are at fault. Hopefully, LIB's effort will educate cyclists, motorists and police officers about the rights -- and responsibilities -- for people who use Illinois' streets and highways.

The PowerPoint presentation makes some interesting points. For instance, it points out the worst offenses by cyclists:
  • Riding against traffic.
  • Traffic light violations.
  • Failure to yield right-of-way.
  • No lights at night.
As for motorists, the worst offenses are:
  • Speed, Speed, Speed.
  • Failure to yield.
  • Disregard signs and signals.
  • Turning and backing.
  • Alcohol.
Another interesting section discusses teens and the poor and where they ride:
  • Less-skilled, ride sidewalks.
  • Prefer direct routes, need access to all destinations.
  • Bike out of necessity.
  • Ride at night.
  • No lights or reflective clothing.
  • Ride against the traffic.
My anecdotal experiences riding in the Belleville, Ill., area back up LIB's contentions. All too often, I see children and the poor -- sometimes those who are forced on bicycles because of DUI convictions -- ride against traffic, and they often ride without lights or reflective clothing at night.

I would recommend you review LIB's materials and spread the word.

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