Guide to Best Practices

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VI. Safety Programs

Bicycle and pedestrian safety programs can help reduce the risk of crashes and injuries.

  1. Safety Education

Education of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists is essential for non-motorists’ safety and mobility. This can be one of the most effective and cost effective ways of reducing collisions and encouraging cycling. Excellent safety education resources are now available. A number of types of programs can be implemented:

  • In-schools, pedestrian and cycling classes can be integrated with school trip management programs (reducing child auto travel to, and traffic around schools), personal safety and fitness, and physical education programs.

  • Adult cycling skills classes, such as Can-Bike programs, may be taught at recreational facilities, or provided through local traffic safety associations.

  • Public education campaigns targeting motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians covering cyclists and pedestrians rights and safety skills (such as Go Green’s “Share the Road” campaigns).

Although many communities have some programs, few communities have enough pedestrian and cycling programs to educate a significant portion of the population. Responsibility for such programs is fragmented, and there is seldom stable funding.


Safety Education

Bike Smarts (Vancouver; 800-565-7727; 604-738-2468; provides resources for training cycling safety skills to children 7-13 years old.

Canadian Cycling Association (Gloucester, Ontario; manages the Can-Bike cycling education program.

Anne Fritzel, Smart Moves for Washington Schools, Climate Solutions (, 2000.

HSRC (Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina), Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), available free from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (, 2000. This is a crash typing software product intended to assist development of a database containing details associated with crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists.

League of American Bicyclists Education Programs ( provides a variety of resources.

Way To Go! School Program, “small steps towards a big difference,” (Vancouver; 1-877-325-3636; provides a variety of safety education strategies and materials, and information on increasing walking and cycling to school.

Marcus R. Wigan, “Using Geographic Information Systems to Promote Vulnerable Road User Safety Education,” Conference on Road Safety, Proceedings, Australian College of Road Safety, Canberra, 1998, pp. 67-76.

  1. Traffic Law Enforcement

Appropriate traffic law enforcement can prevent conflicts and collisions, and help instill lifelong traffic safety habits in young people. A teenager who has spent years violating bicycle traffic laws with impunity is being poorly prepared to become a responsible car driver. Safety experts recommend targeting the following cycle traffic violations:

  • Motorist’s failure to yield or stop for pedestrians and cyclists when required by traffic law.

  • Excessive motor vehicle speed.

  • Intoxicated driver and cyclists.

  • Cyclist’s failure to yield when required by traffic law.

  • Cyclist riding in the wrong direction, against traffic.

  • Cyclists riding at night with inadequate lighting.

Effective enforcement requires overcoming various barriers. Nonmotorized traffic violations, particularly by children, are often considered a low priority by police and the community. Standard traffic fines may appear excessive. Cyclists and pedestrians may ignore citations unless police departments develop a suitable processing system.

A bicycle “diversion” program allows offending cyclists to take a cycling safety workshop as an alternative to paying a traffic fine (i.e., they are “diverted” from the court system). Police departments can run such workshops internally or contract with an outside expert. Such programs are popular because they emphasize safety rather than punishment, and help develop cooperation among police, parents, and bicycle safety advocates. Scout troops, school groups, and parents often attend the safety workshops voluntarily. Here’s how such programs typically work:

  • Cyclist is ticketed for violating a traffic law.

  • If the cyclist is a child, police send a standard letter to their parents describing the violation, emphasizing the importance of observing bicycle traffic laws for the sake of safety, asking the parent to bring the child to a bicycle safety workshop (typically offered monthly or semi-monthly) within a specified time period (such as three months), and inviting the parent to contact the program coordinator if they have any questions.

  • If the cyclist attends the workshop the traffic ticket is void and destroyed.

  • If the cyclist fails to attend the workshop in the specified period, the ticket is processed.

  • Police and courts coordinate to allow efficient processing of cyclist traffic tickets.


Bicycle Law Enforcement

NHTSA, Resource Guide on Laws Related to Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (, contains a compilation of U.S. vehicle and traffic laws that affect walking or cycling.

International Police Mountain Bike Association ( is an organization of police officers who use bicycles for patrol.

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