Kids learn about the triforce.
I was thinking about The Legend of Zelda today when it struck me—safer roads are the result of a triforce of safe cycling elements.
For cyclists, safer roads come from better bike laws and proper infrastructure that takes cycling into account. But there’s a third element that brings it all together—forming what biking advocates (should) call the Golden Triangle, or “triforce,” of safe cycling. This third element, capable of harnessing the power of legislation and infrastructure to unleash safe cycling across our nation is, of course, education.
Without education, neither of the other forces of safety are fully effective. It’s the special sauce that brings it all together. Think about it: the best laws in the country won’t make cycling any safer unless people know about them. New bike lanes are great, but until you know how to ride in them properly, they can be even more dangerous than riding in the road.
Education is what enables safety to happen. It’s what empowers you to confidently take the lane without having to wonder whether you’re breaking the rules. It’s what keeps (most) drivers from parking or driving in the bike lanes. It’s what reminds us to stop at red lights, even when there are no cars coming.
Education is the reason that I started this website.
I was recently asked to speak at a winter bike commuting workshop that was put on by ABC TMA. At one point during the workshop, Megan Ramey (ABC’s sustainability co-ordinator and general friend to cyclists) said something that caught my attention.
She mentioned how in many European countries, children are instructed from an early age to use their opposite hand to open the door when they’re getting out of a car. That is, instead of using their left hand to open the driver’s-side door handle, they’re taught to reach across and open it with their right hand. This method forces you to turn your body towards the window as you’re opening the door, in the hopes that you’ll see an approaching cyclist before it’s too late.
I have no idea how effective or widespread this practice is, or even if it’s true (though I doubt that Megan was lying). That’s not really what appealed to me about it. Don’t get me wrong, it would be wonderful if we could all employ this practice here in Boston—parents, I’m looking at you! However, I was interested in passing it on for another reason.
To me, a little fact like this provides the perfect example of how vital and powerful education is to the triforce. Just one tiny bit of education, properly applied, can prevent countless crashes when multiplied across a culture. It also reinforces the belief that I hold in the future of safe cycling: that ample, open communication between cyclists and the community is the key to safer streets.
So go forth, learn, and connect with your fellow bikers! After all, it’s dangerous to go alone.
IMAGE via MassBike's flickr