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The "Roll Models" that will make the most difference are fashionable people riding bikes. Go to Paris and you'll see that nearly all the Velib riders stop (and wait) at red lights. You will also see motorists patiently driving at 12 mph behind a Velib rider on a narrow street. It is only when cyclists are not seen as hippie/messenger/scofflaws that drivers will "Share the Road." For the kids, why not sign up the professional athletes that "bike to work." But that might cost something and be too effective. The last thing the auto industrial complex wants is for cycling to become cool.

You need to lower your expectations for NHTSA. They still call us pedalcyclists and think that drunk bicycling and walking is an epidemic. At least they are consistent in their idiocy: their answer for improving road safety isn't more capable drivers, but better safety equipment in cars. So of course safe cycling has nothing to do with proper operation of a bicycle, more responsible driving, and --gasp-- better facilities.

I'm not happy with the DOT partnering with AAA to instruct cyclists on safe riding. Its sort of like NIH partnering with Coke to instruct people on nutrition. Bad idea.

AAA may say some of the right things, but at the end of the day they are not really interested in safe cycling, they are interested in good PR so AAA can sell more AAA memberships.

AAA has actively opposed bicycling on a number of issues and its disappointing the DOT has been coopted into a campaign with AAA's name splashed all over the place. It is not appropriate for the gov't to join a powerfull organization that lobbies against a smaller less organized less powerfull part of the country. Its like the government just teamed up with the bully to teach the nerdy kid in funny shorts a few lessons.

Why couldn't DOT team up with LAB? How hard would it have been? Maybe the person responsible at DOT wasn;t familiar with LAB. Or maybe AAA approached DOT with the idea. Either way DOT dropped the ball here.

With regard to the helmet issue, I recently staffed a booth at an Earth Day event to promote everyday cycling. I was astounded at how many non-cycling adults openly fear riding in traffic. To some extent I think these folks see bicycle helmets as validation of their fears.

Well, to the extent (and I'm just speculating) that AAA's coming out of pocket to pay for promotion of this stuff, I'd rather the money came from them, and not LAB. I don't think the message would be all that different coming from a partnership with LAB - it's NHTSA's message that's going to rule any campaign.

Shorter me: take the money and roll.

I think the best way to frame the main debate over bike infrastructure is that many potential riders are afraid to ride in traffic, and for good reason. I certainly am. People will understand this. I think if we're serious about getting lots of new potential riders out, for health, congestion reduction, energy savings, pollution reduction or whatever reasons, we need some separation in high-traffic or congested areas: cycletracks. In my fairly new-to-the-debate opinion, the tradeoff isn't "losing road space to bike lanes" as much as "losing curbside parking to cycletracks in cities and congested suburban areas."

plus 1 at michael, greenbelt and marl p

and a huge thanks to Washcycle for calling out what is going on here with AA and the possible ramifications, and doing so in a responsible but direct manner...

Are children smart enough to realize fashionable people should be role models?

Can children rent bikeshare bikes?

This is an advocacy program geared towards children. And let's be honest: kids fall. A lot. As an adult, I've one bike fall. As a kid: one a week?

AAA does something nice and bicycling advocates complain....

Sad to see the US DOT playing along with this fear-mongering. Politicians like to talk about "safety" because they can seem to be doing something without actually changing anything. The car lobby likes to talk about safety, but only in ways that convince people that the safest place to be is in a car and that the car will make things so incredibly safe that you won't be distracted while talking on your cell phone. Neither of these motivations make sense for the US DOT, where actual safety is easily measured in lives lost. The numbers show that airbags protect AAA members, but not the rest of us.

Time for me write to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood:


We could take a more positive attitude, thank AAA for partnering, and ask what more they are doing to educate motorists about the rights of cyclists.

Or, we could ask NHTSA for its data. As a Federal Agency, its supposed to make decisions based on best available data, not fear mongering. Where are its data that show that helmets are the best solution to safety?

@ Michael : " It is not appropriate for the gov't to join a powerfull organization that lobbies against a smaller less organized less powerfull part of the country. Its like the government just teamed up with the bully to teach the nerdy kid in funny shorts a few lessons. "

I guess you never saw that old bumper sticker about schools getting all the money they want and the Navy having to hold a bake sale for a new aircraft carrier.

And @ pretty much everyone else posting today - Geez, I thought I was a hippie! It really is all about money and power folks. If we want to see more bikes and transit and sensible alternatives to car culture it means playing on the same turf as AAA and GM. It means buying votes, eeermm, getting out the votes. It means making the alternatives that pay off in tangibles like lower health care costs, less road maintenance costs and reduced oil imports look better to the consumer public than the status quo. We genuinely have to compete with AAA - not whine about them or the government agency that likes it's ears scratched by a lobbying entity. Time to scratch those ears more and better than the competition.

Sorry to be so wound up. I didn't get in my digs on yesterday's epic posting pile on.

I wonder if it's would be possible and helpful to get corporate or foundation or association sponsorship and lobbying on our side -- I'm thinking health insurance companies, health-related foundations, medical and nursing societies and professional organizations, and even approaching some of the conservative business groups that are nevertheless very concerned about rising health costs, like chambers of commerce, small business associations, etc.

In a sense, having the big guys who are trying to reduce health costs carry some of the water against the big guys who are trying to protect car and gasoline culture?

@ Riley : Yes of course we should keep scratching the gov't's ears when they behave, but we should also speak up when they do something dumb.

Also, ss a parent I have learned whining, although anoying, can be very effective....

WashCycle has been on a roll with role-reversal post titles. This is another great one.

Also, I'm glad someone's keeping an eye on AAA - they can't be trusted to do anything beneficial for cyclists.

you have 33K deaths in cars every year, mostly due to head injuries. Seems to me it's the folks in cars that should be wearing helmets. It's the #1 cause of death under the age of 30! Where are you on that one AAA? Mandatory helmets in cars would save tens of thousands of lives every year.

@Greenbelt. Good idea, but...

the big bucks are with the health care providers, and very few of them see the profit motive in prevention. They are all rolling in dough thanks to sick and obese pill-popping Americans. One might think that car insurance companies would have an interest in making us better drivers. One would be wrong. The reason? They have a nice cash cow under the status quo.

Kaiser, RWJF and a few others are out there beating the drum for active living.

For most of those groups you mentioned, I think victory would be them stopping actively opposing spending on bike/ped infrastructure.

Sorry for the cynicism/skepticism.

@Lee_Watkins_IV, could you please provide a source for your data? Much appreciated. Logically, you make a good argument.

@MarkP -- Blue Cross of Minnesota sponsors the Minneapolis bike share (link is pdf):

Things may be changing...

@Greenbelt: yep, I know about that one. The Prevention MN side of BCBS does good work; their insurance side is as cutthroat as any other. They've gotten more than their $1M worth of PR out of that investment. Regardless, they are doing the right thing, and I wish more of their confederates in the other states would follow their example.

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