Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors

April 18th, 2015

Do “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors” Exist?

     Bicyclists need to earn respect. I say that as one who is familiar with several modes of personal transportation for I walk 3 miles and bike 22 miles each morning plus I hike and drive an automobile. It’s from these perspectives that I’ve concluded there aren’t many “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors” using the walkways, bike paths and motor vehicle roadways.

     Bicycling as a legitimate mode of transportation is recognized by law (both state and local) and legal road use rights and rules exist. The majority of bicyclists appear far more familiar with those “rights” than they are with the rules and  restrictions. It is the failure of the latter that leads to a lack of respect for bicyclists among other users (motorists, runners, walkers, etc.).

     Developing and following a bicycling education safety and use code would be a good way to start earning the respect bicyclists need to earn. There’s an important list of steps that bicyclists should incorporate into their daily riding routines. They include such issues as:

  • ..  Obeying basic traffic laws (stop signs, single-file riding on public roadways, keeping to the right, using arm signals for stops and turns, riding in the traffic flow direction, etc.);
  • ..  Using a bell or other sounding method when passing others on walkways and paths;
  • ..  Riding only on pedestrian walkways posted and/or approved for that use;
  • ..  Riding single file and knowing when to occupy an entire vehicle lane and when to share it;
  • ..  Practicing courtesy and safety whenever others are present or encountered.
  • ..  Consider conduct worthy of accolades as a good role model for under age 18 riders and wear bright colors plus a safety helmet.

      A “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassador” should be one whose personal code of riding performance is worthy of respect from other users of the various transportation routes. It’s from such respect that the right flows to ask and lead the public into supporting enhancements, improvements and/or additions to the transportation route needs of the bicycling community.

     Coachella Valley bicycling benefits from many public resources devoted to promoting it as an alternative mode of transportation. There are many walkways, paths and streets that have been signed for bicycling and a new 52 mile route linking all valley cities is in the planning stages. The latter, known as CV-Link, is a $100 million dollar project that needs community support in order to surmount a number of stumbling blocks that could serve to hinder successful completion. It’s important for the bicycling community to seek ways to generate that needed community support. A “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassador” program, or something similar, should be considered in conjunction with an education outreach program to both bicyclists and the community in order to foster respect for the bicycling community. Individual bicyclists must become involved by promoting and following good cycling practices and other steps that seek to generate public respect for them and their mode of transportation. Failure to generate significant community respect may result in failure to successfully complete the proposed 52 mile CV Link bicycle route.

     Are there currently any “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors” in the Coachella Valley? Will there ever be an organized effort to promote respect for bicyclists and bicycling needs in the valley? Will bicycling continue to be viewed as more of a sport or casual outdoor activity than as a significant and possibly necessary transportation mode entitled to the accord and respect afforded motor vehicles? Individual bicyclists can make a difference in changing public perception of their cycling activities – will they make the effort?

Bond Shands
April 18, 2015
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