If you ride a bike regularly, you've experienced the health benefits of biking. You're healthier, and you enjoy the outdoors more often. And because you save on transportation costs, you have more money in your pocket, too!
Like most experienced bikers, you value bicycle safety, but maybe you've realized that your community isn't bike friendly. If you ride to work on busy streets with no bike lanes, your commute can be dangerous. And if your community hasn't passed bike-friendly legislation or invested in public bike education, you're more likely to be injured or hit by a car. So much for health benefits!
What Are the Elements of a Bike-Friendly Community?
Communities that encourage bike riding have specific features:
- Dedicated bike lanes on busy roadways
- A network of connected bike lanes and paths that enable bikers to get around easily
- Multi-use paths for off-road riding
- Bike safety training courses
- Plenty of bike parking
- Educated drivers who share the road
- Enforcement of safety rules
Bike-friendly neighborhoods offer a safer experience for riders and drivers alike. If your community doesn't provide the infrastructure and rules necessary to protect riders, it's time for you to become an advocate for bike safety.
First of all, think local! Find--and join--a bike advocacy group in your community. If you can't find one, consider starting one. There's strength in numbers, and it's easier to get your concerns heard--and taken seriously--if you're organized.
Educate and inform the public. Encourage your local bike advocacy group to offer bike safety courses, and make sure that the curriculum includes information about the importance of a bike-friendly community.
Convince community leaders that bike safety is a win-win issue for them. According to Bikeleague.org, biking is good for the economy, decreases traffic and pollution, and leads to a healthier populace. Invite elected officials to information sessions about the benefits of bike-friendly infrastructure and laws.
Lobby for change. Once you've educated local and state officials about pro-biking legislation, get on the phone often and remind them. Ask them to pass bike-friendly legislation like cell phone bans. Explain that minimum passing laws protect both bikers and drivers according to studies reported by advocacyadvance.org.
Remember: as an advocate for bicycle safety, you're giving your community a tool for economic growth. In the meantime, if you've been injured because of unsafe biking conditions, contact the law office of Gary Brustin.