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Share the Road message on buses

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I hope you all don’t mind a bit of an off topic post today, but I am hoping that a few of you readers can help me out. Many of you know that I live in Greenville, South Carolina. I have mentioned several times before that this town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountians is a great place to live and ride. As the advocacy chairperson for the Greenville Spinners Bicycle Club, I am interested in doing what I can to make this area an even better place to ride a bike.

One idea that I would like to see implemented here in Greenville is a “Share the Road” message on our local buses (we just recently got bike racks on all of our buses, so this seems like a good next step). Our City government just took over the administration of the transit system and will be repainting all the buses soon, so now is a good time to really push this idea. I took the picture shown here of the back of a MARTA bus in Atlanta not too long ago. I like this ad, which was done by the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign, because it not only asks drivers to share the road with cyclists, but it features a real person on the bike. In my opinion, a real human face does a better job of reinforcing the message to watch out for cyclists on the roads than does a little stylized icon of a bicycle.

Since this blog has readers all over the world, many of you living in bike friendly cities, I thought it would be a good idea to pose the question; Do any of you have “Share the Road” message on buses, bus stops, etc in your town? In particular, I would love to hear success stories about such programs in other cities. If any of you could let me know about them with a comment or an email, I would greatly appreciate it.

While you are at it, don’t just limit ideas to the “Share the Road” message on public transit. I have seen other really good ideas for spreading the message, like the “and we bike” campaign in Washington County Oregon. I would love to hear about other creative ways that cities have effectively spread the message to share the road. Thanks in advance for any links that you all can provide. I’ll be back to bicycle design related posts next week.

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  1. Mark February 21, 2008 at 1:56 pm -  Reply

    I live in Portland, Oregon and can attest to the value of awareness, but awareness and good will are not the same thing, and power is not the same thing as either one. Awareness is initially at least, more important than good will.

    We have all kinds of signage and all kinds of politics around sharing the road and it is definitely better to ride a bike here than many other places.

    Ultimately, though, you have to face the politics and that politics involves conflict — you have to get what you need to make biking safe regardless of resistance in the community and that involves all manner of micro-tactics. Signage is always good, marketing is good, ghost bikes are good anything that makes drivers aware that bikes are on the road — whether they like it or not– advances the cause of bike infrastructure.

    It’s chicken and egg of course — you need numbers, but you need to create numbers. No advocacy substitutes for the sheer numbers of bikes you see in, say, a Copenhagen. That creates a sense of safety, it creates political will.

    In Portland, it’s beginning to be the case that year round, in any weather, bikes are on the road and they are always in drivers’ field of vision. Again, whether or not drivers like that is not the point, the point is that bikes are a consistent part of the driving landscape that needs to be accounted for.

    What gets people on bikes is infrastructure, marketing and a little bit of momentum. Cyclists need to feel safe to be safe and a little bit of signage may get you more bang for your advocacy buck than a share the road campaign.

    But, I may be wrong — it’s a complex issue and it remains complex in Portland, which is about as good as it gets in the US. I am glad for share the road campaigns, but as a cyclist, that’s not what makes me feel at home on the road.

  2. Ron February 21, 2008 at 9:15 pm -  Reply


    Surely this is a good way to get the message across and change the status quo. People need to be friendlier on all users of the road, be it cyclists or pedestrians.

    Here in Buffalo, I think I did notice something like this on the metro. I’ve yet to see a sign in a bus, although its nice to have our university transport supporting bike riders.

  3. bikesgonewild February 22, 2008 at 4:32 am -  Reply

    …james, good point about the ABC literally humanizing the face of the ‘share the road’ campaign…it makes a lot of sense…

    …i’d like to see a few buses done up in the graphic style that covers the whole bus, not just a poster on the side or back…but nonetheless, utilizing buses is a good tactic…

    …it’s my contention, that until the general population realizes that they will encounter cyclists virtually every time they drive a vehicle, quite literally for the rest of their lives & then makes an accommodation for that, we are not educating them properly…
    …that is, of course, an empirical statement based on time & place…

    …i believe television is a major form of media not being utilized for our benefit (safety)…
    …despite internet usage, i would venture to say a ‘majority’ of americans park themselves in front of the tv at some point during their evening…
    …w/ the right kind of message being broadcast regularly at a time when people are relaxed, perhaps that might become a subconscious thought…
    …let’s persuade people to respect those willing commute or travel by bicycle…

  4. Fritz February 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm -  Reply

    I suppose you saw this coming, James, but here’s another view on the “Share the Road” message.

  5. James February 22, 2008 at 1:05 pm -  Reply

    Mark, you are absolutely right that cyclists are safer in places where there are many of them. Motorist are certainly more conditioned to look out for cyclists if they are everywhere and people are more likely to get on their bikes if they see many others doing it. I have ridden in Amsterdam and I really enjoyed being part of the bike culture in that city. It felt very different to be just one cyclist among many of all ages and backgrounds. It is certainly a contrast to most places in the US where a commuting cyclist stands out in a sea of automobile traffic. No doubt getting more people on bikes is key, but as you said, it is a “chicken or egg” scenario.

    Based on my bike commuting experience in other US cities, I do believe that “share the Road” signs are an inexpensive and effective way to educate the public to the rights of cyclists. On my commute route in Atlanta several years ago, I noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of time I was honked at when STR signs were installed. Obviously, signs alone won’t change driver attitudes, but they do let the drivers who just don’t know that cyclists have a right to be on the road. I think the signs on buses are even better because they are not route specific. They just serve as a friendly reminder to watch out for cyclists everywhere.

    Ron, thanks for the link; greatly appreciated.

    bikegonewild, I like the idea of a wrap-around graphic as well. I am hoping that someone knows of a precedent.

    Speaking of TV advertising, did you see the spots from The San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition? I agree that TV spots are another great way to spread the message.

    Fritz, I have heard that argument but, as I said before, I am convinced of the effectiveness of the signs based on my years of cycling experience in several cities. Besides, the SC signs are white with yellow and are rectangular like a speed limit sign. The white sign does not point out a hazzard, but communicates a law that must be followed. Makes perfect sense to me.

  6. B. Nicholson February 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm -  Reply

    We should update driving tests for drivers’ licenses and require training in the rules of the road, particularly for new drivers and drivers from countries with different rules. Quickie driving schools at the Mexican border for inbound truck drivers would be a plus, too.

  7. bikesgonewild February 25, 2008 at 12:32 am -  Reply

    …mr nicholson…while we’ve had our differences in the past, i would even agree that the whole standard for driving tests in this country, should be changed…’s a different, much more populated world, an infrastructure that will never keep up w/ the sheer growing volume…vehicles that are equipped w/ all kinds of distractions…the ubiquitous cell-phone, hands free devices or not, are seemingly more important to young people than one simple fact…
    ***driving a vehicle is the most dangerous single activity the majority of us will do on a daily basis***
    …& the cavalier attitude most people approach it w/ is exceedingly selfish & scary…especially in light of being a cyclist…

  8. Anna February 25, 2008 at 2:36 pm -  Reply

    One component of the bike commuting issue that often goes unnoticed is the lack of a transportation ethic in our society. As “deputy bike locker room manager” (very important position indeed) at my place of work in Washington, DC, I have witnessed the importance of creating a culture of bike commuting in the work place. When employers provide facilities it is more likely to become part of the work place norm. I am proud to say that we have inspired other governmental agencies to adopt this practice and we continue to grow in numbers.

    It seems to be the “bottom up” approaches that are often the most sustainable, but we need a certain amount of “top down” influences to get the ball rolling.

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