National Bike Month Calls Attention to Safety on the Roads
In honor of May being National Bike Month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and AAA have joined forces in “Roll Model,” a bicycle safety campaign. As NHTSA’s “Roll Model” site notes, “May is Bicycle Safety Month, but bike safety must be observed every day!”
The “Roll Model” page, which features animated bike wheels as the “O”s in the logo words ROLL and MODEL, explains what being a “Roll” model means:
• Riding and Driving Focused — never distracted
• Riding and Driving Prepared — always expect the unexpected
• Putting Safety First — we never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age; always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car
• Following the Rules of the Road — a bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic
• Sharing the Road — both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect
In Colorado, the city of Grand Junction, and Grand Valley Bikes — its program partner — have been making good use of a $38,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, as Grand Valley Bikes (GVB) relates in an article in The Daily Sentinel.
SRTS funds comprehensive projects to encourage District 51 elementary students to walk and bike safely to school. In one part of the project, GVB instructors teach road-safe walking and biking skills, which students practice in a “bicycle rodeo course” with multicolored cones, sidewalk chalk, helmets, and a fleet of bikes.
“The City of Grand Junction is committed to accommodating all modes of transportation and believes programs that encourage children to walk and bike safely to school contribute to achieving our goal of ‘Becoming the Most Livable Community West of the Rockies,’” says Kathy Portner, Neighborhood Services Manager for the City of Grand Junction, and liaison to the SRTS program.
A May 2 “Talk of the Nation” broadcast on National Public Radio reports that the number of students who walk or ride their bikes to school dropped from 48% in 1969 to just 13% in 2009. In the broadcast, titled “What’s Lost When Kids Don’t Ride Bikes To School,” the show’s hosts talk with David Darlington, a writer for Bicycling magazine.
On the broadcast, Darlington mentions how Safe Routes to School is trying to solve the problem of biking and traffic. The group, which is federally funded and has local chapters across the country, says on its website: “At its heart, the SRTS Program empowers communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity once again.”
The unfortunate thing right now — Safe Routes to School is funded — has been funded since 2005 by the transportation bill, which expired in 2009. It’s been in the news a lot lately because it’s been extended nine times temporarily. And the latest one happened on March 31st. It’s now due again to be extended on July 1st. And with the situation that we have in Congress right now, it’s deadlocked. It’s actually passed the Senate. There is still — it still maintains funding for traffic enhancements and Safe Routes to School. But in the House of Representatives, it’s stalled for the usual reasons.
Darlington also told listeners that Arthur Wendel, at the Centers for Disease Control, is in charge of the “Healthy Community Design Initiative,” whose job is to try and help redesign communities to be more prone to active transportation. Bike riding, Darlington said, is one of the prime ways to solve problems like childhood obesity. “The latest figure,” he said, “is that 17 percent of American kids now are obese, which is three times as high as it was in 1980.”
Image by NHTSA, used under Fair Use: Reporting.