Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teaching Kids Safe Cycling - The Example from the Netherlands

The Netherlands provides an excellent example of both the need for teaching children safe cycling skills and the Dutch solution to that problem.

In Fort Collins, City Council has adopted the "Bicycle Safety Education Plan."   The plan has a goal of reaching 11,000 school children in the community every year.

The following videos suggest both a rationale for doing this and a means to achieving that goal.

This first video shows a bit of the history behind Dutch bike paths and bike culture.

The second video describes the education program that teaches Dutch children how to ride safely. At age 12 200,000 kids per year take a safe cycling exam that allows them to bicycle to school once they get into middle school.
How the Dutch got their cycle paths 

Bicycle training in the Netherlands

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bike Sharing in the 21st Century

Last summer's Momentum Magazine had a great article by Carolyn Szczepanski on bike sharing around the world.  The author describes a variety of bike share programs, including B-Cycle, Alta Bicycle Share, and "Nice Ride Minnesota."  You can read Szczepanski's article here.

Boulder's B-Cycle program was installed last spring and is an example of new "street furniture" that is being installed in many cities.  The advantage of B-Cycle is that it ties into the transportation system so bicycling becomes a means of transportation, not just a fun thing to do (though it still is!)

Motorist in Roundabout Comments on Cyclist Losing a Shoe

A kind letter to the editor of the Coloradoan on October 22nd expresses the opinion that there may be a better or safer route for bikes through the roundabout at Vine Dr. and Taft Hill Road.

Roundabout at Taft Hill and Vine Drive (looking west on Vine).  Note how the bike lanes disappear so that cyclists are forced to decide either to take the lane as a motorist or to go onto the sidewalk as a pedestrian.

The week after we took students through here the County put up this sign to make it clear that cyclists have two choices on how to handle this. The Larimer County website has further instructions on how to negotiate a roundabout.  

To the Editor:
I am the motorist that Rick Price noted in his Monday column. I am also the motorist who was paying enough attention to wait while a boy, who had lost his shoe, stopped in the middle of the traffic circle and got off his bike to pick it up. I know that roundabout well. Cars zip around it. When it was built, I was pleased to see that it had been designed to let the bike lanes on Vine and Taft Hill flow out of the circle, around the edge on a "sidewalk" and then back on to the bike lane. If the volunteers leading the students had scouted the route, they would have noticed this safety feature and encouraged young riders - who might not think to just leave the shoe and keep moving - to use it. It might be true that the boy had a right to be in the roundabout, but there was a safer, bike-friendly alternative available.

All that said, I am glad that Rick lends his voice and knowledge to the promotion of bicycle safety in Fort Collins.

Jane Albritton

Taking 337 Middle School Students Bicycling through a Roundabout

First published in the Coloradoan October 17, 2011
By Rick Price, Ph.D.

I began writing my Smart Cycling column in January of 2010 after several people advised me that College Avenue in Old Town “isn’t a bike lane.”  One City employee actually explained to me two years ago that it was illegal for me to ride my bike on College Avenue even though, in reality, College is open to bicyclists except from Laurel to Harmony.  Other bicycling “dos and don’ts” need clarifying as well, for both motorists and cyclists.  This column is an attempt to help clear up some of the ongoing confusion. 

Two weeks ago Bike Co-op volunteers took three hundred thirty seven Lincoln Middle School students on bicycle rides through Old Town in groups ranging in size from ten to twenty-five.  Our ride included the roundabout at Vine Drive and Taft Hill Road, a ride through City Park and the shared lane arrows on Mountain Avenue. The only real problem we had was when one student lost a shoe in the middle of the roundabout and was advised by a motorist the he “should be on the sidewalk!”  The student had every right to be in the roundabout, although I advised him to keep his shoes on next time.

Many people believe that bikes should be on the sidewalk or at least as far to the right as possible on the roadway.  This is actually wrong, since bicyclists have a responsibility to be visible and to ride on the road where they feel “safe.”  Many people still think it is ok to bicycle against traffic so they can see cars coming toward them.  This practice is both dangerous and illegal.  The erroneous ideas about where cyclists should ride come from our rural roots where we learned that cyclists were merely “pedestrians on wheels.”

Several people have commented to me that they see bicyclists signaling right turns incorrectly with their right hand extended.  This is actually legal for cyclists as an alternative to raising their left hand.

Another behavior that you might see that is illegal or inappropriate is bicycles “splitting the lane” by sneaking up along the right hand curb along a line of cars at an intersection.  This is both illegal and dangerous since cyclists can be cut off by a right turning vehicle in this position.  Boulder allows cyclists to do this as long as they stop just behind the front-most vehicle, in full view of the second vehicle.  We should think about adopting this rule in Fort Collins. 

There is still a lot of confusion out there as we mature as a bicycle friendly community.  What about those bicyclists not stopping at stop signs or lights?  Many of us wish we had the “Idaho stop law” which, since 1982 has permitted cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and since 2006 has allowed cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs.  But that will be a while in the coming to Fort Collins and is a topic for another time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pedestrian Review for Older Children

Help kids and parents review safe pedestrian behavior. 
By 3rd grade most kids know what a pedestrian is. 
Go over these terms in class, make sure all children know to look left, look right, then left again before crossing the street.

Then challenge them to find the words on the left in the grid of letters.
The rest of the sheet is self explanatory.

All of these exercises build awareness for bicyclists as well as pedestrians.  

Save this image and print it from Windows Photo Viewer or visit and print it directly from their website:

Bike Helmet, Skateboard Helmet or ?? Help Kids Tell the Difference

Parents and kids need to understand the difference between and among helmets so they pick the right one for the specific activity.  Let kids match the right helmet to the right sport, then take this home to show their parents.   For use in your class you can "save image as" and print from Windows Photo Viewer or you can visit and print it directly from there:

Helmet Exercise for K thru 3rd Grade

To print this for use in your class simply save this image and print it from Windows Photo Viewer.  Alternatively, you can visit and print the pdf directly from there.

In a bike club with mixed ages older kids can help the younger kids complete this maze as time allows.