As the number of bicyclists increases in the U.S., so does the need for increased safety measures, bike advocates say.
Bicyclist fatalities have increased due to more distracted driving, higher motorist speeds and poor maintenance on our roadways, according to bicycling advocates.
Advocates of improving safety Towards Zero Deaths believe the best way to improve overall safety is to reduce distracted driving, limit urban traffic speeds, improve motorist and cyclist education, and dramatically improve transportation infrastructure with complete streets, networks of protected bike lanes and trails, and well-maintained roadways.
“All of these improvements were (requests) of bicycle advocates at the National Bike Summit,” said Kim Curley, community outreach coordinator for Commute Options.
Curley attended the National Bike Summit last month in Washington D.C. along with the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and 750 other advocates, government staff, and cycling enthusiasts from all 50 states.
“The United States Department of Transportation has adopted national strategy on highway safety that moves us towards zero deaths. It is time for Oregon to follow suit. We know that if we build our roads, laws, and funding decisions on one simple goal, that of safety first, we can help prevent crashes, injuries, and fatalities,” said Gerik Kransky, advocacy director for the BTA, a non-profit which promotes bicycling and improving bicycling conditions in Oregon, so that citizens can meet their daily transportation needs on a bike.
“Funding for bicycle and pedestrian safety within Oregon is in limbo since the federal transportation law, MAP-21, was passed in 2011,” said Curley.
While MAP-21 significantly increased the amount of funding available to states for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), requirements did not include those to specifically target bicyclist and pedestrian safety improvements. In fact, MAP-21 eliminated the successful Safe Routes to School program and removed guaranteed funding for bicyclist education programs.
“If safety comes before speed, before capacity, and if existing roads are safe before we build new roads, we can significantly decrease the danger of dying on Oregon's roads,” said Kransky.
To increase awareness of what can be done to improve bicyclist safety, advocates are asking congressional members to join the Congressional Bike Caucus, pledge to reduce bicycle and pedestrian deaths, become familiar with a project in a local community, and encourage state and local agencies to not overlook bicycle and pedestrian safety as part of overall infrastructure improvements.
“We would like to show how the completion of Bend’s river trail is making bicycle riding safer by providing an off-street through route for bicyclists,” said Curley. “Improvements like these, that encourage safe, active, commuting, are not possible without the financial support of government agencies,” she said.
Citizens who wish to find out more about legislative issues that affect bicycle and pedestrian safety, can also sign up for email alerts at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, www.btaoregon.org.
About Commute Options
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. Through active transportation choice, Commute Options encourages healthy individuals, a clean environment, and a strong economy. Commute Options represents transportation options in our community by educating citizens, businesses and government about the value of carpooling, vanpooling, walking, bicycling, teleworking and using public transportation. For more information, visit www.commuteoptions.org.