by Christine Bourgeois, Education Coordinator, Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition
As an avid cyclist who rides every day, I am always sad to hear that a car hit a fellow rider in our community.
This tragedy and other recent collisions involving cyclists in Santa Barbara highlight the need for all road users to obey the rules of the road. When people bend the rules to their personal benefit, whether they are a motorist, bicyclist or pedestrian, it contributes to chaos on the streets and everyone is endangered.
John Forester, a promoter of vehicular cycling, reminds us that all "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles".
When it comes to cycling safety we need to be more European, where all students learn basic lessons in road safety and usage. Young children learn to be safe pedestrians, older students learn how to be respectful "drivers of a bicycle": These countries have generations of educated road users who walk, bike and drive safely and without conflict.
In our community, the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition (SBBC) has been working toward the goal of offering universal access to bicycle education. This year, 140 junior-high school students learned to ride safely through the popular Earn-A-Bike program. This month, the Spanish Language Outreach Committee distributed 800 free lights to low-income cyclists who have to ride to work, school or shopping after dark.
For adults, the SBBC has been offering street skills classes every other month to practice bike handling skills and review legal rights and responsibilities. Pre-registration and details for these classes can be found online at: http://bicicentro.org/adultclass
Is the goal of offering universal access to bicycle education feasible in Santa Barbara? I'll let every Santa Barbarian ponder my question.