ABC Blog

The days are getting shorter, we’ve turned the clocks back, and the first snow of the season has fallen. At this time of year, awareness and visibility on the roads are key to staying safe – whether you bike, drive, or walk. Using the unique and oftentimes very funny illustration style of BikeyFace, a local Boston bike blogger, it is our intention to promote the awareness that all modes of travel share a responsibility for safety on the roads – a responsibility to See and Be Seen.

We think this (printable!) poster does a great job of illustrating the main ways to be awareSee – and stay visible – Be Seen – on the road. We encourage you to distribute it to your friends and co-workers, and to hang copies in communal spaces like parking garages, bicycle storage rooms, and office gathering spots. We’ve built on the poster by compiling a detailed cycling resource guide based on our own experiences biking to work downtown every day.

I would also like to declare my ulterior motive for promoting See and Be Seen.   My husband and I do not own a car, so we bike to commute to our jobs, to do errands, and to bring our three-year-old daughter to daycare. This post outlines my wish list of desired behaviors that would put my mind at ease, as a bike commuting mom who would like to send her daughter to school by bike one day. We hope that our new poster and this blog post will help you stay safe on the roads this winter and year round!

People Who Bike

As bikes increasingly share the roads with motorists and pedestrians, awareness and visibility become all the more important. These tips will help:

Be predictable. “Be predictable and visible” is the mantra for preventing a bike accident.
Install lights.  A white light in front and a red light in back is the law, and highly effective at night and in stormy weather.
Use turn signals. Use your arms to indicate your intention to turn left or right, or if you plan to stop.
Stop at all stop signs and red lights.
Wear eye-catching clothing.  This is why I like biking in skirts!
Hone your Sixth Sense. Over time, cyclists develop an almost zen-like awareness of what’s going on around them. BikeyFace has a great post illustrating this.

People Who Drive

As Mayor Menino is fond of saying, the car is no longer king in Boston.  Here are some basic guidelines to help you be aware and stay visible in your vehicle. You can also try this fun awareness test video.

Use turn signals. Signals are imperative to communicate your intention to all road users.
Avoid cell phone use. Studies have found that talking on the phone while driving can have a negative effect “as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.” Texting while driving is illegal in Massachusetts.
Don’t stop in a bike lane. It’s illegal (unless you are parallel parking) and causes people who bike to veer around you into car traffic that may not expect them coming.
Check for oncoming bike traffic after parking.  The Dutch are taught from an early age to reach across their bodies to open the car door, which forces them to look back for oncoming bikes. It’s a good habit to get into! And remember: cyclists are allowed to bike outside of the bike lane.

People Who Walk

We’re all pedestrians after we’ve parked our bikes and cars – and when we’re taking the T. Be aware of your surroundings and make it easy to stay visible while you walk around town.

Be predictable. Follow pedestrian traffic signals. If you choose to jaywalk, make sure that there is zero approaching traffic in the form of motorists or people on bikes.
Avoid cell phone use. Cell phones can be as distracting on foot as behind the wheel, so why not sit at a park bench or wait until you’re not navigating precarious city streets to have a phone call?

People Who Lead

In a perfect safety world, our elected officials and city planners would enjoy multi-modal lifestyles to better understand the needs of our fellow road users. The Commonwealth has a premier example of this in our Secretary of Transportation Rich Davey, who lives car-free and routinely takes the T to work.

Under Davey, MassDOT recently announced a first-in-the-nation mode shift goal to triple the share of trips taken by bike, walking and transit by 2030. Government can play perhaps the largest role in creating safe road conditions by investing in infrastructure that supports safe interactions among people who walk, drive, and bike. Changing our streets will be well worth the time, investment, and continued advocacy.

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5 Comments on Stay Safe on the Road: See and Be Seen

  1. [...] about dangerous streets just hours before a cyclist is killed. Boston’s BikeyFace illustrates a downloadable bike safety poster. How New York can fight salmon cyclists, or not. Would you wear your medical information coded on [...]

  2. [...] Read more about this awesome campaign here (excerpt below): [...]

  3. patrick says:

    Lots of drivers who aren’t used to sharing the road with bike traffic aren’t in the habit of checking for cyclists they way they check for cars. It takes some getting used to since bikes and cars use the same roads, but in slightly different ways. Two big ones:
    - Avoid the right hook! Before turning right onto a cross street, check over your shoulder for cyclists approaching from behind you on your right.
    - Avoid the left hook! When turning left at an intersection, remember that bikes may be approaching on the far side of oncoming car traffic. Yield just as you would to oncoming car traffic.

    • Michelanch says:

      GREAT idea! I think a fun quiz from things wiithn the rules is good! Likely the rule breakers are not up on this website reading anything but, word gets around. I read it was 25-40 riders to – what was it’ 3,300! So people are talking about SJBP shoooot’ I am talking about it. That was my first ride and I have told almost every person I have been in contact with. Back to the point….I think it obvious more volunteers are needed! Maybe before the ride there should be a minimum amount “ a must have” maybe we should get the word out that for the ride to occur we have to have so many birds and really encourage the people to stand up. Like on this home page advertise more for BIRDS a countdown of volunteers needed versus how many there are. Also facebook is such a good source! What about a short article that highlights some of the “major complaints” from the last ride it could be circulated through facebook? Something that will really encourage more volunteers even if it’s just for one ride! Plus downtown san jose’s music in the park is another source! What about getting some people out to recruit BIRDS at music in the park! Yeeeah, right next to the bike rack’ every person who walks in just ask for a minute of their time And reminders? If a log on in required to directions what about submitting a reminder to the registered riders.. it could be from everything to being a BIRD to just being responsible and vocal… Lets remind everyone of SJBP Mission Building community through bicycling.

  4. Thirumalai says:

    “well, I had a good time, and we aren’t all like that.”There must have been a lot of first timers in July’s ride coridiensng the number jump. I just don’t understand why they did not read the “how we ride” rules. I felt like a dork as I read them at least 2 times a day the week leading up to the ride. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and that I didn’t put anyone’s safety on the line. It’s sad to see that people can be so inconsiderate.I plan on following all the suggestions to insure that we leave everyone (the party & the community) with a positive experience.Stopping at red lights & trying my best to get the surrounding people to do the same, “boo” red light runners, yelling “to the right”, and “let the car pass” when needed.I will keep a positive attitude, smile and wave, and yell “BIKE PARTY” to keep the party atmosphere going.I will bring a garbage bag to help pick up, and share my snacks & chips with my random bike party friends.I will use my hand signals, which came in very useful during the ladies ride. I can’t wait for the next Bike party!

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