Thursday, June 2, 2011

Higher (Bike Safety) Education

A guest blog post by Local Motion volunteer and certified bike safety instructor, David Jacobowitz:
I teach bike safety education mostly to adults. Recently, it was a pleasure to address students in Luis Vivanco’s Bicycles, Globalization, and Sustainability course recently. I use the curriculum set out by the League of American Bicylists, which is based on John Forester’s principle that bikes fare best when they act like and are treated like vehicles.
The students want to go on field trips around the Burlington area, so it is a good idea to have them educated a bit on basic bike safety. These are good students. They have made it to higher education and they are good at learning complicated stuff. So bike safety would seem to be a breeze.
It was. We pretty quickly went over the basics of Vermont law, rules of the road, ABC Quick Check, skills you might need for safe riding and avoiding hazards.
In the discussion three scenarios came up which I want to present:
  1. Riding on the sidewalk to avoid construction. A young man described a time when he was riding downtown and saw a line of cars stopped by a flagman. He rode up onto the sidewalk and passed the line and the construction. Was this OK? What rules should he follow?
  2. That brought up another question, this time from a woman. Is it OK to ride as a pedestrian in the crosswalk during the pedestrian phase of a traffic light?
  3. A rider who often carries his kids in a trailer behind his bike asked where should you position yourself in a bike lane that goes all the way to the intersection with a line of cars to your left.
Sometimes bikes do not act like other vehicles on the road. When is it OK to deviate from Forester’s principle? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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