Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Jersey Bicycle Fatalities Nearly Double

22 and still counting.

Compared to 12 last year, 12 in 2006, 17 in 2005, 16 in 2004, 11 in 2003 and 15 in 2002.

Most cite the rise in the cost of gas getting more people out of their cars and on to bikes. However there could be a general awakening in America and New Jersey to the potential the bicycle as a highly functional, green and lean transportation tool. Hopefully it is more of the later and not the cost of gas.

As reported in Wednesday's Daily Record, these numbers are a major concern that the Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, Pam Fischer has to get more aggressive in trying to reduce. I've had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Ms. Fischer once and she seems to be a very competent and compassionate person. I'm quite sure that we at WalkBikeJersey could come up with a few ideas to help her out on our shared missing of bicycle as well as pedestrian safety.

I'll start with two:

#1 - An aggressive public safety awareness campaign about bicycling. I believe there was a radio campaign recently that reminded drivers about the rights of pedestrians and the duties of drivers around pedestrians as specified under NJ Title 39. Something similar focused on biking would be great since we are all aware that too many drivers honestly believe cyclists have no right to the road and should ride on the sidewalk if at all.

#2 - A blinky light give-away. I know that I read somewhere that the Chicago Bicycle Federation (now the Active Transportation Alliance) along with the Chicago Police did a sting operation where they pulled over cyclists who did not have lights. Instead of giving the offenders tickets, they gave them lights instead. Similar programs are done in Washington DC and San Francisco. I'm quite sure that if you looked at the numbers, many bike crashes and probably most of the fatalities happen at night because inexperienced (or lazy) cyclists did not have lights. This would seem like an easy and relatively inexpensive program to do. Decent LED light sets start at paltry $12.

Director Fischer, please let us know if we could help. Really!

Does anyone else have any ideas?

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