Cycling safety isn't on the forefront of our collective minds in winter time. However, it's been a year since the city's Cycling Safety Task Force was convened (in the wake of 3 bicycle fatalities), so I recently asked the City Fathers for an accounting of how it's gone.
One of the Task Force members was Deputy Chief Jim Kerns of the Police Department. I emailed him directly, since I heard him testify about bike safety, and got the clear impression he both understood the issue and was sincere and sympathetic. (Frankly, I think many of our law enforcement professionals view cyclists as a nuisance, rather than as legitimate roadway users.)
Mr. Kerns emailed me back with good information.
- The hoped-for "education outreach program" didn't make much headway. (Mostly due to budget constraints, I'm sure.)
- However, new info is posted on the city's web page, and the BPD is "twittering" and using Facebook to disseminate info.
- The BPD contributed significantly to the Boise Weekly's bicycle issue last May.
- All officers were trained on the new ordinances, and had a "spring refresher" to remind them of their responsibilities. Because of that, there seems to be a (slightly) stepped-up effort at enforcing traffic laws that affect cyclists.
He also sent me an interesting stats sheet about bicycle accidents and enforcement.
- Of 102 reported bicycle accidents, a "vehicle driver" (auto, truck, SUV, etc.) was at fault in 78, compared with 47 where the cyclist was at fault. ("Overlapping data assume both were at fault.")
- YTD, the Boise Police had issued 69 citations for bicycle violations. The most prevalent violation appears to be riding at night without proper equipment, but "position on highway violations" (my pet peeve) was cited 7 times, it looks like. (A HUGE improvement over the 1-per-year average, for the past few years.)
I appreciate the city's effort to keep the issue of bicycle safety in the minds of the road-going public. It's part of being a bike-friendly city, which we take pride in. I hope they keep up - and even step up - the effort as time goes on.