“Road Respect, Cars & Bikes Rules to Live By” is a safety campaign that encourages motorists and cyclists to know and abide by the rules of the road – laws and common sense practices that help keep all road users safe.
The Utah Department of Public Safety and Utah Department of Transportation started a joint effort to encourage safe practices and good relationships between motorists and cyclists in 2011. The centerpiece of the communication effort is a statewide bicycle tour.
In June 2012, thirty cyclists representing law enforcement, public safety, transportation and bicycle advocacy participated in a six day 509 mile ride through Utah. Along the way cyclists joined community leaders and citizens, including local cyclists at planned Rallies and Stops meant to promote the rules for sharing the road.
Rallies and Stops were organized by community volunteers. “It’s taken many, many hours to get to this point,” explained UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras at a kick-off event in Salt Lake City.
Months before the tires hit pavement, tour co-organizers Evelyn Tuddenham with UDOT and Kari Gibson with the Utah Highway Safety Office networked with communities throughout the state to organize Road Respect events. Mike Loveland is an avid cyclist and a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He participated as a cyclist and also helped plan the tour.
Loveland’s work life is spent enforcing the rules of the road. But after work, he spends a lot of time cycling. So, he is in a unique position to see safety issues from the perspective o f a cyclist and a motorist. The Road Respect campaign and tour is a way to encourage a “get-along attitude” between cyclists and motorists, Loveland explains. Cooperation and consideration is necessary since both groups, according to Loveland “own a piece of the road.”
Local communities appreciate the effort
Activities at the Rallies and Stops drew families for fun activities, including include bike rodeos, helmet give-away items, street and trail rides and speakers, including elected officials who endorsed the Road Respect message. Mayor Bruce Burrows of Riverdale City praised the effort at a Stop on the Road Respect Tour.
Riverdale officials are working on a Complete Streets plan for the city that includes bike lanes and trails “that will interconnect every part of the city.”
According to the National Complete Streets Coalition website (http://www.completestreets.org), “Complete Streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”
Citizens in Riverdale want cycling, explained Burrows at a tour Stop. “We want to be ahead of the curve, to be very proactive in getting things done.” And with more cyclists on the streets of Riverdale, it’s even more important that when people ride or drive, they know the rules of the road.
Mayor Dennis Fife of Brigham City, Utah also sees the value in making his city bicycle friendly. He explained how he invited Jack Leavitt, a retired engineer from ATK to head the city’s bicycle committee at a Stop.
Both Fife and Leavitt are pleased with the progress the city has made. “We’ve got new bicycle lanes that go north and south through the whole city on both the west side and east side,” says Leavitt. “We’ve seen a great increase of families now that we have these bike lanes.” So, the Road Respect message is well timed!
Getting the message out
Road Respect events around the state were well attended by families, cycling club members, community groups and elected officials. And that great community support at official Rallies and Stops was in part due to great media coverage of the tour.
Kerry Bringhurst, News Director at Utah Public Radio used the messages developed by Tuddenham and Gibson to cover the tour and associated events. In fact, even though UPR broadcasts originate in Logan, the station covered events around the state starting the first day of the tour. Coverage included interviews of Road Respect organizers, stories about the tour and information on the website, including an interactive tour map.
Bringhurst believes covering the Road Respect tour was an important service to listeners “not just to help cyclists, but to help motorists.” Bringhurst says the information sent to the station about the tour were excellent.
The Road Respect Tour communication effort included carefully developed press releases, fact sheets and a list of myths about cycling meant to help media outlets educate the public and promote Road Respect events. Tour organizers “gave me what I needed so I could do accurate interviewing,” said Bringhurst.
Cars and bicycles together
Road Respect Tour cyclists were joined by motorists driving replica Shelby Cobras to demonstrate the importance of respect between drivers and riders. Some of the Rallies on the Road Respect Tour even featured mini car shows.
While the tour involves bikes and cars, there’s really one group – people. More and more Americans ride and drive for work and for fun. All people deserve to be shown respect, whatever the chosen transportation mode. Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn, who spoke at a Rally in Draper, told the audience that when teaching safety, respect is the key. “If you base an event around respect you really can’t go wrong.”