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Enforcement, Bicycles and Education





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I.              Bicycle Enforcement

                A.            Enforcement of violations by bicyclists has become a problem in many communities.

                                1.             Studies indicate that perhaps as much as 70% of the motor vehicle/bicycle accidents were as a result of violation of the rules of the road by the bicyclist.

                                                a.             A large proportion of those involved in these motor vehicle/bicycle accidents were under the age of 15.

                                                b.             Two studies by the National Safety Council indicated that almost 50% of the grade school children questioned ride their bicycles against the direction of traffic flow.

                                                c.             Studies of bicycle accidents conducted throughout the country found between 60 to 90% of the bicyclists had violated traffic regulations or laws.

                                2.             It is apparent that although the younger bicyclists are more prone to violate traffic control devices or rules of the road, older bicyclist contributes measurably to the non‑conformance rate.

                                3.             Some of the reasons for violations to the rules of the road stems from the fact that the bicycle is still not considered by the public as a vehicle which must conform to motor vehicle laws when using the street.

                B.            The attitude of the parents as well as the police plays an important role in a child's attitude and behavior towards traffic regulations.

                                1.             Many parents' attitudes reinforce the thinking that the bicycle is a play thing.

                                2.             The attitudes of many enforcement agencies does little to counter those of the parents.

                                3.             Recently, surveys were made of the traffic enforcement units in two west coast cities to determine what their attitudes were with regard to bicycle violations.

                                                a.             The majority of officers indicated there is a bicycle accident problem in the U.S. within their jurisdiction.

                                                b.             They favored enforcement actions against bicyclists over the age of 15, but disapproved of any enforcement action directed at those bicyclist under the age of 15.

                                                c.             The reasons for these attitudes may be summarized as follows:

                                                                1)             "Youthful offenders have not been properly educated in safe bicycle operation or in the rules of the road."

                                                                2)             "The young people are not ready to cope with punitive enforcement and therefore, I will not participate."

                                                                3)             Officers feel that the public frowns on officers "Picking on little children."

                                                                4)             Officers feel it is a waste of time if tickets are given to juveniles.

                                                d.             These attitudes reflect a universal attitude among police which in turn is reflected in a pattern of lax enforcement.

                                4.             The City of Santa Barbara, California, in order to modify the police officer attitude towards enforcement of bicycle traffic laws and try to impress on them the magnitude of the bicycle safety problem produced a video tape.

                                5.             In order to obtain community acceptance for a bicycle enforcement program a community awareness program has to be conducted prior to the enforcement campaign.

                C.            Disposition of bicycle violators for infractions of the vehicle rules of the road.

                                1.             For persons with a valid driver's license they are levied a fine for their violations.

                                2.             Disposition of cases for bicycle violations under the age of 16 varies throughout the United States.

                                                a.             Letters of violation are sent out to parents for children under the age of 16 asking them to appear with their children before a juvenile court or police officer.

                                                b.             Notices of violation are sent to parents, who must then sign their child up for a bicycle safety course, or the violation will be forwarded to the juvenile authorities.

                                                c.             Another Approach is to have the children appear before a court of their peers.

                                                d.             Other cities level monetary fines for traffic violation even for young children.

Source: The Traffic Institute, Northwestern University


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The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of  four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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