Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Kids and adults could all stand to learn some traffic skills


This week's Moser column highlights that kids aren't getting the necessary sound traffic habits from schools or homes, and outlines local opportunities for such training.

Florida Weekly, December 21, 2011
by Dan Moser

Learning to ride a bike, for most people, is a rite of passage that usually happens early in life. Even sooner than climbing on a bicycle, one is a pedestrian who begins to interact in traffic, whether that traffic consists of other pedestrians, bicyclists, motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes, or, more likely, a combination of all of these. Considering the regularity of each and every person’s relationship with traffic throughout life, it’s obviously important that lessons to teach safe and cordial behavior be taught beginning at the earliest possible opportunity.

But contrary to expectations — and probably to no one’s surprise — most parents, caregivers and schools fail to do what’s necessary to help children build sound traffic habits that stick with them throughout their lives. For parents and other caregivers, this includes practicing safe, courteous behavior themselves when walking, cycling, and driving with their children. Schools, including pre-schools and after school programs, should make it a routine part of their curriculum's. And youth organizations could incorporate it into the activities they offer.

I’m writing this column a day after co instructing a pedestrian and bicycle training program for physical education teachers that gives them the tools needed to do just what is mentioned above: incorporate traffic safety into the curriculum on an ongoing basis. As a regional trainer for Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program (http://hhp.ufl.edu/safety), a resource for communities and schools that comes at no cost to them, I see real potential. But over the years — and after training many teachers and community educators, I’m disappointed that not nearly as many utilize the program as intended — as an ongoing part of physical education classes or youth programs. There are a number of reasons for this lack of focus, including so many competing interests vying for time, so it takes real commitment to make traffic safety education a priority focus area.

Beyond educational opportunities FTBSEP provides, there exist quite a few other options. Following is a rundown of what’s available locally — you may contact me for more information or with additional resources, questions and suggestions:

1. Lee County EMS has a trailer with 25-30 bikes and other equipment necessary to conduct hands-on bike skills training sessions that’s available to just about any organization, school, church or program in Lee County that gets its staff and volunteers trained. The training and trailer use (and transport) are free.

2, Also available through Lee County EMS is a variety of pedestrian and bicycle safety education choices, including presentations, trainings, exhibits, and other offerings, customized to the audience’s needs. These, too, are free within Lee County. Bike helmets for those who cannot afford to purchase them are sometimes available as well.

3. Florida Bicycle Association (www.floridabicycle.org) offers its adult-level CyclingSavvy program (www.cyclingsavvy. org) that charges a modest fee and is available whenever there’s enough demand.

4. League of American Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org) has a similar fee-based program, Traffic Skills, that’s also offered locally when demand dictates.

5. School resource officers are often very helpful, as are fire departments and other public safety agencies. Check with your local provider to see what’s available in your neighborhood.

6. For safety materials in bulk, you can visit Florida’s Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety Resource Center (www.pedbikesrc.ce.ufl.edu). Florida Department of Transportation’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Office (www.dot.state.fl.us/safety/ped_bike/ped_bike.shtm) is your source for expert advice on technical matters related to Florida traffic law and facility design, among other things.

I’m sometimes accused of being a safety nerd, but I’m actually more concerned with people feeling good about using our public ways in whatever mode they choose, including those in their motor vehicles. For that to happen, we must first progress from considerate, safety-minded pedestrians, then move on to the same type of bicyclist, who will in turn, lead us to be better drivers who are concerned for not only our own well-being but also for all others with whom we share public space. Unfortunately, based on behavior witnessed each and every day — distracted, aggressive, inconsiderate, and sometimes even seemingly suicidal motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians — this progression just isn’t happening, at least not around here.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦

Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334- 6417.

in the know

Running/Walking:

>> River, Roots, & Ruts Half & 5K, Sunday,
Jan. 8, Caloosahatchee Regional Park,
Alva (www.rrrtrail.com)
>> Naples Daily News Half, Sunday, Jan. 15,
Downtown Naples (www.gcrunner.org)

For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) and 3-D Racing (www.3dracinginc.com). For Naples/Collier running info, it’s the Gulf Coast Runners (www.gcrunner.org). Charlotte County running information is at www.zoomersrun.com. Walkers can visit www.meetup.com/ Walking-SWFL.

Cycling & Other Events:

>> CyclingSavvy: Truth & Techniques classroom
session, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m., Wednesday,
Jan 11, Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> CyclingSavvy: Train Your Bike parking lot
session, , 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Saturday,
Jan. 14, Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> CyclingSavvy: Urban Tour session,
12:30 - 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14,
Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> Tour de Cape: Sunday, Jan. 22, Cape
Harbour, Cape Coral (www.capeparks.com)

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