This document is now available on the NHTSA Web page, or in summary form in presentation format.




NATIONAL STRATEGIES
FOR
ADVANCING BICYCLE SAFETY

Revised 4/24/01



Summary: Back around the turn of the century a group gathered to design a campaign to address all of the elements that discourage bicycling in the US. This plan was the result. Although some organizations are following through with their own actions, very little is happening on the national level.






NATIONAL STRATEGIES FOR
ADVANCING BICYCLE SAFETY
A CALL TO ACTION

This document is a call to action for National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety. It includes goals, strategies, and short- and long-term actions that can be taken to reduce injury and mortality associated with bicycle-related incidents. It is national in scope, but local in application. The National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety was developed by a diverse group of bicycle advocates, injury prevention specialists, and government representatives working together at a conference in July 2000. Although it reflects the thoughts of that group, it is not meant to be a government plan of action.

The National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety is the first step in beginning the process of changing the cycling environment in significant ways by addressing five key goals:


Under each goal is a series of strategies and initial action steps. These are designed to be a road map for policy makers, safety specialists, educators, and the bicycling community to follow as they undertake national, state and local efforts to increase safe bicycling. Some of these strategies go well beyond anything attempted in the past to promote a safer cycling environment.

This document will only become a reality if significant resources are focused on implementation. The needed resources include not only adequate funding, but the time, energy, and dedication of a host of individuals and organizations. We hope that you, the reader, will see opportunities for action by you or your organization to help make these national strategies a reality.

The National Bicycle Safety Network (NBSN) -- a public-private coalition of federal and state agencies, professional and non-profit safety groups, and bicycling advocacy organizations dedicated to improving bicycle safety and increasing bicycle use -- has volunteered to facilitate implementation activities for selected portions of the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety. You, or your organization, can participate by taking the lead on implementing one of the strategies, helping with funding or other resources, or joining our efforts toward achieving these critical public safety goals. If you would like to learn more about the progress of the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety or volunteer your time, please contact us through the NBSN web site.


BACKGROUND

About 85 million adults and children ride their bikes every year.[1] For children and teens, the bicycle is a primary means of transportation when traveling independently. Every morning an estimated half million people bike to work in the United States.[2] However, injuries do occur. Each year, more than 500,000 bicyclists of all ages sustain a cycling injury that requires emergency department care[3] . Of the approximately 800 bicyclists killed annually,[4] about 750 are killed in traffic crashes[5] . Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of the bicyclists riding in or near traffic report feeling unsafe.[6]

In a nation where traffic is increasing and roadways are becoming more congested, we must, to the best of our collective ability, ensure the safety of all roadway users.

National Bicycle Safety Conference

A critical step was taken when a group of safety experts and advocates, bicycling enthusiasts, and government agency representatives met in Washington, DC on July 21-22, 2000 to develop a national agenda for bicycling safety. The conference was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. No one present at that meeting could recall a time when such a diverse group had been convened or when government representatives had sat down with cycling advocates to plan significant policy and strategies around bicycling and bicycle safety.

The conference format was crafted to focus discussion on five practical issues that, once accomplished, will substantially advance the safety of bicyclists. These topics were:

Topic experts in each of these areas were commissioned to write "white papers" in advance of the conference and present those papers at the onset of the conference. Each paper addressed key issues in that area, described why the topic is important to bicycle safety, and proposed potential solutions to enhance safety. These white papers were provided to conference participants in advance of the conference and will be published in a separate document summarizing the conference proceedings.

The white papers set the tone for conference discussions, which centered first on outlining key strategies for advancing each area and then detailing critical actions needed to implement those strategies. The National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety (termed "bicycle safety agenda" or "agenda" in this document) is the product of the conference.


Focus of the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety

Bicycling safety, not bicycling use, is the central theme of the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety. Although strategies that increase bicycle use can complement this agenda, the focus here is on safety and public health issues that are not adequately covered in other efforts.

The document, National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety, does not stand alone. Rather, it should be viewed as a "next steps" guide to accompany other documents, including:

This document supplements these other plans by providing specific strategies for achieving the bicycle-related goals, as well as specific action steps that are needed to accomplish those strategies.

The strategies outlined in this document are considered to be those that can be initiated and largely completed within a three-to-five-year time frame. In addition, these strategies are expected to build strong local support and capacity for efforts to improve safe bicycling. As these approaches are implemented or completed, it is expected that other ideas will take their place in the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety.

Implementation

Ultimately, the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety is only useful if it leads to commitment and consequent action by a host of groups. In this process, the role of the federal government was to convene interested parties and encourage their mutual collaboration, rather than dictate a particular approach. Accordingly, the government convened a group of thoughtful, concerned people to help produce a constructive framework for action. However, it was never intended for government agencies to be solely responsible for carrying out these suggested steps, whether through funding or policy changes. Instead, the conference participants produced a constructive framework for action that could help guide the work of individuals and organizations committed to increasing safe bicycling. Accordingly, we invite you to consider these recommendations carefully and add your talents and resources, wherever they may lie, to make bicycling safer for all.



SUMMARY OF THE NATIONAL STRATEGIES
FOR ADVANCING BICYCLE SAFETY

The National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety is a call to action for policy makers, educators, advocates, transportation experts, health and injury professionals, and others with an interest in safe bicycling. The strategies encompassed in the document are those that, over the next three to five years, are capable of enhancing bicycle safety for riders of all ages. The specific goals and strategies are summarized below.

Goal #1 Motorists Will Share the Road

Goal #2: Bicyclists Will Ride Safely

Goal #3 Bicyclists Will Wear Helmets

Goal #4 The Legal System Will Support Safe Bicycling

Goal #5 Roads and Paths Will Safely Accommodate Bicyclists




Goal #1
MOTORISTS WILL SHARE THE ROAD

Same Road, Same Rights, Same Rules

Bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation and bicyclists are legal drivers of vehicles, with laws and regulations established for their use. Yet a major issue is that many bicyclists feel they are not respected by motorists and must fight for their place on the road. Like motorists, cyclists need space to safely operate in traffic. They need to anticipate correctly the actions of drivers and other road users. This requires mutual respect, which can be promoted by public information, motorist education programs, and legal measures.

Strategy #1 Create a coordinated "Share the Road" public education campaign that can be adapted at the state and local levels.

Strategy #2 Amend the motor vehicle code to give precedence to bicyclists in the absence of overriding traffic rules.

Strategy #3 Include components on "safe bicycling" and "sharing the road" in driver education programs.



Goal #2 BICYCLISTS WILL RIDE SAFELY

Would you ever think of driving a car without knowing what to do at a red light?

Bicycle safety education is more than just learning how to balance on two wheels. It involves knowledge, skills, and decision-making ability in traffic. It assumes that individuals - both children and adults - can learn to make appropriate decisions in a variety of complex traffic situations. Unfortunately, many cyclists and motorists do not place the same value on cyclist education as on driver education, even though they share the same road. By teaching cyclists the necessary knowledge and skills to cycle safely, bicycle safety education can be a useful means of preventing injuries and deaths. Safety instruction is already a component of many such programs. The most effective programs need to be identified and their use encouraged.

Strategy #1 Create a national "Ride Safely" marketing campaign targeted toward bicycle riders.

Strategy #2 Encourage statewide bicycle safety conferences to promote the National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety.

Strategy #3 Expand school-based and community-based programs that teach bicycle safety to children and adult bicyclists.

Strategy #4 Educate community professionals on effective ways to promote safe bicycling.

Strategy #5 Motivate decision-makers at all levels to adopt policies that promote safe bicycling.

Goal #3 BICYCLISTS WILL WEAR HELMETS

If your chances of winning the lottery were 88%, wouldn't you play?

Bicycle helmets are 88% effective in preventing serious brain injury. Yet fewer than half of the bicycle riders wear one, and teens almost never do. The reported reasons among infrequent and recreational cyclists for not wearing helmets include their lack of social acceptability and their belief that they are uncomfortably hot to wear in the summer. Experienced riders, particularly adults, cite their superior bicycling skill as one reason, among others, for not wearing helmets. Research has shown that comprehensive programs -- those that provide helmets at a discount, teach the importance of their use, and include helmet use laws -- are most likely to result in increased helmet usage.

Strategy #1 Create a national bicycle helmet safety campaign.

Strategy #2 Create tools to promote and increase bicycle helmet use that can be adapted for use at the state and local levels.

Strategy #3 Assist states and communities that decide to address bicycle helmet use through state and local laws and enforcement.

GOAL #4
THE LEGAL SYSTEM WILL SUPPORT SAFE BICYCLING

Shouldn't the police ticket any road user - bicyclist or driver - who breaks the law?

The rights and rules of the road apply to both cyclists and motorists. The rights of cyclists must be upheld through the legal system and the laws affecting safe bicycling must be fairly and consistently enforced. However, some cyclists believe that motorists are not penalized for violating cyclist right-of-way and that, consequentially, data systems assign fault to cyclists in crashes. Data on high-risk crash locations and public support for enforcement efforts are important for good legislation and for getting law enforcement and the courts to uphold the laws and regulations that discourage unsafe behavior.

Strategy #1 Improve the collection and quality of data concerning bicycle crash incidents, including both traffic and non-traffic sites.

Strategy #2 Create tools that help law enforcement officers enforce bicycle-safety traffic laws aimed at bicyclists and motorists.

Strategy #3 Promote the most promising enforcement efforts at those local sites where they are likely to be effective.

Strategy #4 Encourage the court system to follow through on bicycle safety enforcement by imposing meaningful penalties for both motorist and bicyclist violations.

Goal #5 ROADS AND PATHS WILL SAFELY ACCOMMODATE BICYCLISTS

If it is safer, will they use it?

During the 1990s, Federal spending on bicycle and pedestrian facilities (e.g., bicycle paths, lanes, and racks) increased dramatically C from approximately $4 million per year to more than $200 million per year. Improvements for bicyclists have included striped bicycle lanes, off-road trails, bicycle parking racks and lockers, and a variety of planning, safety, and promotional activities. In addition, thousands of miles of paved shoulders have been built or rebuilt as a part of highway projects, providing bicyclists with a safer place to ride. Unfortunately, however, roadway design still often overlooks the needs of bicyclists. Traffic engineers and planners who design and operate the roadway transportation system don't always understand cyclists' rights, responsibilities, needs, and preferences.

Strategy #1 Document and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of facility design options.

Strategy #2 Improve 100,000 miles of roadways that serve everyday travel by providing striped bicycle lanes and other safe bicycling facilities.

Strategy #3 Train professionals responsible for the planning, design, and operation of the transportation system to better accommodate bicycle travel.






APPENDIX 1
CONFERENCE STEERING COMMITTEE
BICYCLE SAFETY CONFERENCE 2000
STEERING COMMITTEE



Barbara Alberson, MPH
Chief, State and Local Injury Control Section
California Department of Health Services

Heather Anderson
Project Manager
Washington Area Bicycle Association

Marietta Y. Pearson Bowen, MS
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Stephanie D. Bryn, MPH
Injury and Violence Prevention Programs
Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Health Resources and Services Administration

Andy Clarke
Executive Director
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals

Janet Coleman, MS
Office of Highway Safety Infrastructure
Federal Highway Administration

Marquita Dudley
Manager, Club Programs
American Automobile Association

John C. Fegan, MA
Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager
Federal Highway Administration

Michael J. Klasmeier
Program Director
League of American Bicyclists

Amy L. Matush, MS
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Angela D. Mickalide, PhD
Program Director
National SAFE KIDS Campaign

Fred Rivara, MD, MPH
Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center

Richard A. Schieber, MD, MPH
Childhood Injury Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ellen R. Schmidt, MS
Assistant Director, Children's Safety Network
Education Development Center

Randy Swart
Director
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Bill Tremblay
Brain Injury Association, Inc.

Elaine A. Tyrrell, MS
Program and Management Analyst
U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission

Maria E. Vegega, PhD
Chief, Safety Countermeasures Division
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Bill Wilkinson
Executive Director
National Center for Bicycling and Walking






APPENDIX 2
CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS

The International Trade Center
Washington, DC

PARTICIPANT LIST

JULY 21-22, 2000

Washington, DC

Organizations listed reflect participants' affiliations at the time of the meeting.
Participants' areas of expertise follow the name.

Barbara Alberson, MPH - Health Education
State and Local Injury Control Section
California Department of Health Services

John S. Allen - Bicycle Advocacy
Past President, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition

Marilena Amoni, MS - Traffic Safety Policy
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Heather Anderson - Bicycle Advocacy
Washington Area Bicycle Association

Lisa M. Aultman-Hall, PhD - Traffic Engineering Research
Department of Civil Engineering
University of Kentucky

Abraham B. Bergman, MD - Pediatrics, Injury Prevention
Harborview Medical Center

Richard D. Blomberg - Human Factors Research
Dunlap and Associates, Inc.

Leverson S. Boodlal, MS - Traffic Engineering
Office of Safety
Federal Highway Administration

Marietta Y. Pearson Bowen, MS - Injury Prevention, Bicycle Safety
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Susan M. Boyle - Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy
Transportation Alternatives

Christine M. Branche, PhD - Epidemiology Research
Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ruth A. Brenner, MD, MPH - Epidemiology Research
Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, & Prevention Research
National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

Anita L. Brentley, Med - Education, Community Outreach
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Tamara A. Broyhill, MS - Writer/Editor
Office of Highway Safety Infrastructure
Federal Highway Administration

Stephanie D. Bryn, MPH - Education, Injury Prevention
Injury and Violence Prevention Programs
Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Health Resources and Services Administration

Gabriel J. Cano - Community Outreach, Traffic Safety
Office of Communication and Outreach
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Peter L. Capper, MBA - Marketing
BVK McDonald

Ellen R. Cavanagh - Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy
Transportation Alternatives

Lois E. Chaplin, MPS - Education
Department of Agricultural Engineering
Cornell University

Tanya Chin Ross - Community Outreach
National SAFE KIDS Campaign

Nita K. Clark - Injury Prevention
Injury Prevention Service
Oklahoma State Department of Health

Andy Clarke - Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals

Judy Comoletti - Education
National Fire Prevention Association

Steve Davidson - State Injury Prevention Program Administration
Office of Injury Prevention
Georgia Department of Public Health

Robert J. Demichelis II - Injury Prevention Policy
Brain Injury Association, Inc.

Karen J. DeWitt - Law Enforcement
Washington State Patrol

Lewis W. Dijkstra - Traffic Engineering Research
Planning Consultant and Transportation Researcher
Rutgers University

Marquita Dudley - Education
American Automobile Association

John C. Fegan, MA - Psychology, Traffic Engineering and Planning
Federal Highway Administration

Laurie L. Flaherty, RN - Nursing
Office of Communication and Outreach
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

John Forester, MS - Bicycle Advocacy, Education
Bicycle Advocate

Valodi Foster, MPH - Injury Prevention
Bicycle Head Injury Prevention Program
California Department of Health Services

Susan S. Gallagher, MPH - Health Education/Policy
Children's Safety Network

Carole S. Guzzetta - Child Injury Prevention Advocacy, Health Education
National Safety Belt Coalition
National Safety Council

Annie M. Hawkins - Education
American Automobile Association

John D. Heeney - Education
National Peer Helpers Association

S. Randal Henry, MPH - Injury Prevention, epidemiology
Epidemiology Analysis
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

Sarah E. Hunt - Traffic Safety, Health Education
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Michael E. Jackson - State Bicycle Program Administration
Minnesota State Bicycle Coordinator
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Anthony Kane, PhD - Policy Development and Administration
Executive Director
Federal Highway Administration

Michael J. Klasmeier - Bicycle Education/Advocacy
League of American Bicyclists

Charles Komanoff - Bicycle Advocacy
Right of Way

Mary Anne Lahey, PhD - Psychology, Facilitation
American Institutes for Research

Bryan M. LeMonds - Marketing
BVK McDonald

Marvin M. Levy, PhD - Psychology, Human Factors Research
Office of Research and Traffic Records
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Nancy Libby-Fisher - Injury Prevention
Rhode Island Department of Health

Lauren M. Marchetti - Health Education
Highway Safety Research Center
University of North Carolina

Amy L. Matush, MS - Traffic Safety, Health Education
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Leigh E. Matusick - Crossing Guard
School Crossing Guard Program
Florida Development of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Education

Roberta C. Mayer - Traffic Safety Outreach
Office of Communications and Outreach
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Barbara McCann - Bicycle Advocacy/Policy
Transportation and Quality of Life Campaign
Surface Transportation Policy Project

Ray McMurphy - Education
Safe Moves Bicycle Safety Program

Rose McMurray, MS - Traffic Safety Policy
Traffic Safety Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Angela D. Mickalide, PhD - Child Injury Prevention Policy
National SAFE KIDS Campaign

Ted R. Miller, PhD - Economics
Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation

Peter C. Moe - Bicycle Advocacy
National Center for Bicycling and Walking

Allen Muchnick - Bicycle Advocacy
Washington Area Bicycle Association

Gary Mueller - Marketing
BVK McDonald

Randy Neufeld - Bicycle Advocacy
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation

Cheryl S. Neverman, MS - Youth Transportation Safety, Injury Prevention
Office of Communications and Outreach
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Beverly J. O'Bryant, PhD - Education
Community Service and Service Learning Programs
District of Columbia Public Schools

Richard Olken - Bicycle Advocacy
Bikes Belong Coalition

Jeff S. Olson, RA - Engineering and Planning
Millennium Trails
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation

Scott Osberg, PhD - Traffic Safety Research
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Theodore A. Petritsch - Engineering and Planning, State Program Administration
Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator
Florida Department of Transportation

Cynthia H. Powell - Injury Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Richard A. Schieber, MD, MPH - Pediatrics, Epidemiology Research
Childhood Injury Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ellen R. Schmidt, MS - Health Education
Children's Safety Network
Education Development Center

Charley R. Seymour, PhD - Community Outreach
Adopt-a-Bike Program

Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH - Pediatrics
Center for Injury Research and Policy
American Academy of Pediatrics
Children's Hospital

Shelli Stephens-Stidham - Injury Prevention
Injury Control Division
Oklahoma Department of Health

Carol Stroebel - Injury Prevention, Child Health Policy
Coalition Resources, Inc.

Jane C. Stutts, PhD - Human Factors Research
Highway Safety Research Center
University of North Carolina

Randy Swart - Bicycle Advocacy
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Mandy Taft - Community Outreach
National SAFE KIDS Campaign

Carol H. Tan Esse - Traffic Engineering Research
Federal Highway Administration

Sallie R. Thoreson, MS - Injury Prevention
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Allen Turnbull, PhD - Education
BikeWalk Virginia

Preston Tyree - Education
Texas Bicycle Coalition/Education Fund

Elaine A. Tyrrell, MS - Consumer Safety Education
U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission

Maria E. Vegega, PhD - Psychology, Injury Prevention
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Malcolm Washington, Jr. - Education
East Central Health District, Public Health
Richmond, GA County Health Department

Katherine F. Watkins - Traffic Engineering and Planning
City of Cambridge Traffic Calming Project

Landon H. Wickman, Jr. - Community Outreach
Urban Youth Bike Program
New York Cyclist

James B. Wright, MS - Youth Transportation Safety
Office of Traffic Injury Control Programs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Robert Young - Motor Vehicle Safety
Office of Defects Investigation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Charles Zeeger, MS - Traffic Engineering Research
Highway Safety Research Center
University of North Carolina






End Notes

1. Rodgers GB. Bicycle and bicycling use patterns in the United States in 1998. Journal of Safety Research 2000; 31:149-158.

2. Hu PS, Young JR. Draft: Summary of the travel trends, 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC: January 8, 1999.

3. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, 1999 [machine-readable public use data tapes]. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC: 2000.

4. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital statistics mortality data, underlying cause of death, 1998 [machine-readable public use data tapes]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD: 2000.

5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 1999: Pedalcyclists. Report No. DOT HS 809 093, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC: 2000.

6. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2000. Omnibus Transportation Survey.

7. U.S. Department of Transportation. Strategic Plan 2000-2005. Washington, DC: July 2000.

8. Federal Highway Administration. The National Bicycling and Walking Study: Transportation Choices for a Changing America. Report No. FHWA-PD-94-023, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC: 1994.

9. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Promoting Safe Passage into the 21st Century: Strategic Plan 1998. Report No. DOT-HS-808-785, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, DC: September 1998.

10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 2000.





Last revised for format: February 3, 2010.