People travel more in the summer , and not just on vacation. On any given day, people make more local trips in July than January. And it’s true too that in nice weather more people make more of those trips by bike. This summer it seems like there are more people on bikes than ever before, and it’s exciting to see. Every day I pass people on the streets that are not cyclists, they are just people riding bikes. This is what working we’re for, right?
The summer influx of bicycles on the streets and trips in general is not without conflicts. We all seem to have a story about an individual driver who was impatient, reckless or frighteningly aggressive. By the same token, we have stories regarding a person on a bike we saw ignore a traffic signal, ride on the wrong side of the street, or blow by a pedestrian. Occasionally, the media reports a story about an incident between two individuals, and spins it into a tornado of “us vs them”. In our calmer moments, most of us realize that safety on our roads should not be an “us vs them” issue. In any given week, tens of thousands of us will be behind the wheel for one kind of trip, on a bicycle for another, and walking to transit station for another. So why all the tension?
While we continue to advocate for infrastructure and laws that will allow us all to get to where we’re going comfortably and safely, each of us also needs to approach every commute or trip home with the understanding that other road users are our neighbors, family members, coworkers, and friends. Each of us needs to drive, bike, or walk with consideration for the safety of all.
We need to see Eye to Eye—a lot is riding on it. That is the theme for the new safety campaign the BTA is rolling out with other partners in Portland and Eugene this August. The campaign, targeted at all road users, will aim to foster a culture of awareness and respect on our shared paths and roadways and to make the streets of our communities safer for everyone. The “Eye to Eye” message will also serve as a banner over information about specific actions road users can take to be safe: making eye contact with other road users, looking for bikes and stopping for pedestrians, using lights at night.
Look for Eye to Eye community outreach events in August (as we continue to fundraise for and develop the ads and PSAs that will follow), and let us know if you’d like to be involved. You can also call us to request an urban biking workshop for your workplace or you can bring your family to Kidical Mass the third Friday of each month.
Meanwhile, be safe out there. Remember that people new to cycling are looking to others for the right way to do things. Remember that those waves of apology when we make a mistake or waves of thanks when someone is considerate go a long way. And remember that seeing eye to eye is valuable in all areas of daily living, but especially when you’re sharing the road with someone else’s loved one.