That’s right, I just heard on the radio that today is officially designated as national “Put the Brakes on Fatalities” day. The program is an effort to raise consciousness about the incredibly high rate of transportation fatalities that we have here in the US. Hearing those awful statistics again (42,000 deaths a year or 1 every 13 minutes), reminds me that it has been a while since I took a break from design topics to talk about bicycle advocacy.
We know that US roads are becoming increasingly dangerous for all kinds of road users, but especially for cyclists and pedestrians. In the twenty years or so since I first started road biking seriously, the situation on the road has noticeably deteriorated. Larger vehicles, more congested streets, and increasingly frustrated and stressed out drivers combine to make many of our roads a more dangerous environment for cycling than they were in recent years. So what can we do about it? The best thing you can do is get involved on a local level. If you have an idea that you think might make roads safer, contact your city and county officials, and state representatives. As with any issue, the more people who speak up the better.
You may have already heard that several states, Wisconsin, Utah, Arizona, Minnesota, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and most recently Florida, have recently passed a 3 ft minimum clearance law for passing a cyclist. That is a minimum passing distance, so any motorist who is seen passing a cyclist closer is subject to a substantial fine. Good idea, right? If you think so and you live in a state that is not on that list, take a few minutes today and write your state representatives to suggest such a law. Of course, that is just one example of an idea to suggest. You may have another idea for a new law or infrastructure improvement in your town. Take a little time today to suggest a way to make our roads safer. It doesn’t matter exactly what the idea is; the important thing is that we, as cyclists and road users, make our voices heard.