In Columbia, Missouri police are being schooled on bicycle safety, and the proper place of bicycles in the flow of motor vehicle traffic (Police are on the lookout for errant cyclists and motorists):
A student in PedNet’s recent Confident City Cycling class moved to the center of the lane to turn left at an intersection, as the student was instructed to do. A Columbia police officer then pulled the bicyclist over, said Ian Thomas, PedNet executive director.
PedNet instructor Tim Overshiner explained to the officer that the bicyclist was correct, Thomas said, and the officer agreed she should maybe get a better handle on the bicycle laws.
After that, PedNet approached the Police Department about hosting educational sessions regarding bicycle laws and enforcement. This month, the Police Department will be honing in on bicycle and motorist enforcement.
Citing more bikes on the road and injuries that are becoming too frequent, the Columbia Police Department is labeling this month: Operation Share the Road.
The label, which denotes the department’s “directed activity” for the month, means police will be actively enforcing bicyclist and motorist laws when not pursuing other calls, said Capt. Stephen Monticelli. Last month, Thomas said, every Columbia police officer took PedNet’s hour-long course about bicycle and motorist laws.
In a subsequent letter to the editor, PedNet Coalition executive director Ian Thomas thanks the Columbia Police for Operation Share-The-Road, and hopes that their efforts can help to make bicycling an “overwhelmingly practical mode of transport for local journeys”. However, he says, “there is a widespread belief that bicycling with traffic is dangerous. In fact, it’s perfectly safe if the cyclist (1) learns how to ride correctly, and (2) obeys traffic laws. In virtually all bike-related accidents in Columbia, the cyclist is riding the wrong way, riding at night without lights or failing to stop. Through “Operation Share-the-Road,” the Police Department is helping promote cycling for transportation.”
The reader comments following the letter explore the competition for space on Columbia’s narrow streets between cyclists and city buses — an interesting discussion.