Creating a Welcoming Environment—Framing the Right Conversation

On the past couple of days, I’ve seen a number of really excellent news pieces talking about the protection of bicyclists. This piece, by the New York Times, called “Gadgets to Boost Bike Safety”, includes a list of accessories that can be added to one’s bike to provide additional safety features. The gadgets focus on making the bikes more noticeable (loud bike horn and bike lights) to added protection (the inflatable helmet) to helping define the rider’s space (XFire Bike Lane Light). All these products work to make the rider feel safer and more in control of their environment.

And, last week, People for Bikes released a draft of what they are calling a “Wonktastic chart” rating 15 different ways to protect bike lanes. These solutions, from paint and bollards to bumps to parked cars to planters to raised tracks, are part of an evaluation matrix prepared by Austin engineer Nathan Wilkes. This gives a perceived safety rating, cost comparison, durability rating, and maintenance rating for many of the common solutions that cities are exploring.

Added to this list is a new solution distributed by Saris: the Cycle Guide Lights. The Cycle Guide Lights provide visual separation on cycle tracks and bike paths for riders and for drivers. In an urban setting, the lights provides visual cues of where a rider should be. On a dark, rural path, the lights provide a guide–a beacon of light that shows them the path ahead. Like all of the protective devices, The Cycle Guide Lights provide a solution to cities looking to create a welcoming environment for more riders, especially at night.

The final sentence of the New York Times Article reads, “Once riders get over the fear, the daily chaos can actually be fun, interesting and connect them to our amazing city like nothing else can.” All of these solutions are great solutions to engage the demographic that is commonly known in the bike planning world as the interested but concerned. While reminding this group of the dangers of cycling is generally a bad idea, giving them aids to overcome the concern is an excellent way to get them out on the road. I would suggest that the conversation focus on the positive, creating a welcoming environment, rather than the negative, overcoming fear.

For cities interested in finding out more about the Cycle Guide Lights and how they can be added to their bag of tricks should email me,

- Sarah Reiter, Saris Parking Category Manager

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