Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Educational courses make roads safer

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 7/4/18

Physical education teachers participate in a
training class on bicycling safety
In a perfect world we would all follow the rules, laws and mores we’ve set up for ourselves as a society. But we’re all human so mistakes and missteps are inevitable and to be expected. That fact goes for the things we do on our roads and pathways as much as anything.

Just to cite a few examples: We’re all familiar with pedestrians who unexpectedly dart into traffic from between parked cars, people on bikes riding against traffic and drivers failing to stop behind a stop sign or red traffic signal and encroach into the crosswalk (marked or unmarked). Those actions may be isolated poor decisions, entrenched bad habits or deliberate actions based on self-serving reasons or incorrect information. When dangerous behaviors become ongoing and frequent — as appears to be the case in our part of the world, at least based on traffic crash statistics — education can make a difference.

For some time, online education courses on almost any topic have been readily available and often the preferred option. But based on my experience, learning online about how to behave in traffic is not as effective or impactful as training conducted in person.

Over the years I’ve provided many bicycle and pedestrian education sessions and programs, including training others to be instructors. Most of my efforts are now focused on the latter, mainly because I realize it’s much more productive to deal with those who know their audience as teachers and also because it has a multiplier effect once individuals have been trained as instructors.

Recently I trained members of Streets Alive SWF (, University of Florida Extension Service staff (, and interested local residents to do just that. These folks were eager to learn how to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety through bicycle skills clinics/bike rodeos, community presentations and other events. Now they have a better understanding of relevant laws, behaviors and practices — knowledge that will benefit them as individuals as well as teachers of others. It’s always rewarding working with motivated individuals and the organizations they represent.

Admittedly, it’s not easy to attract participants to take part in the various in-person opportunities to learn how to behave in traffic as vulnerable road users, except perhaps for school students (assuming it’s offered). For potential drivers who are just learning or who are very new to being behind the wheel, it’s a little easier to get them to undertake formal education for practical purposes.

But that’s not the case for established drivers. From my perspective, educating drivers — or at least getting key messages and concepts to them — would have the biggest impact on reducing all traffic-related injuries and fatalities, meaning those involving vulnerable road users would likely also be positively impacted.

For those learning to drive as teenagers, the limited offerings in the way of school-based education means only some of those needing it receive it and even then, it’s not nearly as comprehensive and effective as it needs to be. For established drivers, continuing education usually comes only when the courts require it, there is a need to reduce accumulated points against one’s driver license or the driver seeks a discount on insurance. Seldom, if ever, does anyone take a driving “refresher” just to ensure he or she is operating at as high a level as possible.

I’ve compiled a list of educational opportunities available in our area. It’s not comprehensive — the list doesn’t include those that are specific to traffic law offenders or anything available online. The list includes nonprofits or government agencies. Local commercial driving schools can be found at ¦


CyclingSavvy, American Bicycling Education Association,

Smart Cycling, League of American Bicyclists,

Ride Leader / Ride Marshall Certification, FBA,

Florida Traffic & Bicycle Safety Education Program,

Safe Routes to School,

SafeKids at Golisano Children’s Hospital,


Streets Alive SWF,


Stay Alive … Just Drive!,

Smart Driver Course, AARP,

Young Driver Program, Lee Health,

Teen Driver Challenge, Sheriff’s Youth Activity League,

D.A.T.E, required to obtain driving permits and other driving courses, SWF Safety Council,

For more information, see

- Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at and 334-6417. 

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group ( The Florida Bicycle Association ( is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.

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