Bicycle Alliance of Washington Programs
Share the Road Driver Education
Our landmark success was passage of the Cooper Jones Act in 1998, requiring drivers who seriously injure or kill a bicyclist or pedestrian to retake the driver's license exam. This led to development of the Share the Road license plate, which generates funding to produce a curriculum for all public and private driver education classes that instructs drivers about sharing the road with bicyclists. Through this systemic change the Bicycle Alliance educates all future generations of motorists and makes roads in Washington State safer for all users.
Safe Routes to School
Utilizing a train-the-trainer approach for maximum impact and sustainability, we bring bicycle safety education to nearly 23,000 elementary school students in 2011-2012 through the Safe Routes to School program. In collaboration with Public Health Seattle/King County, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Washington State Department of Transportation, we currently work in 31 school districts across the state.
Hub & Spoke
Statewide outreach to our constituents is critical to our effectiveness. Providing information, resources, and training to hub communities, we empower bike clubs and local advocacy groups across Washington State to expand their reach as spokes. This growing network of advocates promotes bicycle-friendly legislation through communication with their legislators, participation in Transportation Advocacy Day in Olympia, and voter education.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In 2010 we introduced the Safe Routes to School bicycle and pedestrian safety program to schools in 17 low-income communities in south King County.
With leadership from the Bicycle Alliance, everyone worked together to ensure program success. Tailored curriculum addressed students’ needs, including basic riding instruction, translated materials, and culturally-appropriate teaching methods. City staff met with parents to allay concerns about traffic, inspected the roads around the schools, and made long-term improvement plans. We mapped out suitable routes between students’ homes and school. Students and teachers learned the rules of the road, how to share the road, and how to ride defensively. The students – even those who had been too scared to learn how to ride a bike – simply love riding bikes! To date, the program has helped more than 1,000 children learn to walk and bike safely, and even more students attended walk- and bike-to-school events. An additional benefit is the reduced transportation burden on low-income families. Now that teachers are trained and experienced, this program is largely self-sustaining.
One priority is to continue this highly successful program into 2013 and beyond. Future funding would cover maintenance of the bicycles, tools and trailers, and part-time staff to coordinate scheduling, delivery, and storage of the training bicycles, and to conduct long-term program evaluation.