When I mention education this is the sort of thing I’m talking about: from bikeportland.org—Safer Streets.
Good article, and I agree, signs indeed do have their limitations. But more signage is a benefit because it will raise awareness of cyclists on the streets—I see dreadfully few signs stating Share the Road, All Drivers Have Equal Rights, Bicycles on the Road, or, Bicycles Allowed in All Travel Lanes or a plethora of others that might be helpful. Good passive education. More paint on the road could be an improvement—they’ll at least catch people’s eyes better: more sharrows, more crosswalks, at least fill in the bike lanes with some color maybe. And give cyclists some warning to some of the new trolley tracks now found on Westlake with some painted buffer areas at the tracks maybe.
But I’m talking about other forms of education too, more actionable forms of education. The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan talks about education, but I feel it’s lacking in a few areas. Is anybody talking about this anywhere? I think it’s a little too weighted in “educating” cyclists. Don’t get me wrong, there definitely exists a population of cyclists out there that need educating. The BMP seems to only be educating new cyclists for safety, encouraging new cyclists to remain cycling, and enforce traffic laws on cyclists. I can’t complain with this. Chapter 5: Education, Enforcement, and Encouragement however seems to take the easy route by teaching safety to cyclists, but vaguely touches on the more necessary—and likely more difficult route—of teaching awareness to motorists.
My logic (speaking generally of course): keeping your ass from getting creamed should be fairly easy to educate yourself on—most cyclists will make sure to remain aware enough not to blindly ride against traffic or into intersections. This is simple self-preservation—”education” that typically comes easy to us. On the other hand, teaching others (read: motorists) to be aware of another’s safety (and mere existence) isn’t as simple. I think motorists should be more of the focus in the Education, Enforcement, and Encouragement chapter. But it’s not, is the BMP taking the easy route on this subject?
I’ll admit, this is a major hurdle to be made: overcoming the precedent that motorists have effectively “owned” the roads for the past fifty years. This precedent and the mentality that goes along with it is what the BMP should focus more on in my opinion. All the bike lanes in the world won’t mean a thing if a motorist doesn’t heed them, doesn’t know the rules in dealing with them, and/or doesn’t know what they are. This is also where the Enforcement should be focused on also. Maybe I’m just reading too much, but I get the feeling in this chapter that someone is doing us a “favor” and we’d better not step out of line or we’ll lose it. An awaiting “I told you so!” per se.
But, is there some educational campaign that I’m not aware of that is focusing on teaching, to motorists, the existence of bikes on the road, the rules of the road when interacting with cyclists, the legalities of intimidating, hitting, or killing cyclists? These are the forms of education that I would like to see also implemented, at the ground level: when you get, or renew, your driver’s license at any and all ages, starting now.
Without educating and re-educating motorists, any and all bike lanes are half-assed. How frequently do you already see bike lane laws being shirked? Myself: all the time. Parking in them, driving in them, turning early in them, UPS/FedEx/DHL delivering in them, and lately pedestrians running and jogging in them (seriously, what’s up with that?).
If lifting and/or altering this automotive precedent is our goal (as it should be), it only makes sense that motorists be the ones responsible for learning more about cyclist’s rights and safety. They should be our stewards to the road; it’s time all motorists take the responsible step and slow down, pay attention behind the wheel, and learn the laws. Never before have there been so many bikes on the road, that population is only going to grow. They should be our stewards to the road because they’re going to be giving it to us eventually, when that gas is all gone or it’s priced realistically, we’ll all be biking!
I’ll have to read more about this Mobility Education of course. Maybe I’m speaking a little too idealistically, but seriously WTF, things have to change, there’s been too many lives irresponsibly taken.