Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Bicycle and pedestrian education for schoolchildren. - Mike Cynecki - Mike Cynecki For children, a comprehensive bicycle safety education program should include an on-bike component. - Mike Cynecki




Bicyclist/Motorist Education

Providing education, outreach, and training is a key strategy in increasing bicyclist and motorist awareness and improving behavior. Not only do bicyclists need safe places to ride, they need to know how to interact safely with motorists. Motorists also need to be educated about how to share the road with bicyclists, which is especially important for motorists who are not bicyclists themselves. Beyond sharing information, the primary goal of an educational strategy is to motivate people to alter their behavior and reduce reckless actions. For a strategy to have the greatest chance of success, its implementation needs to include an integrated, multidisciplinary approach that links hard policies (e.g., changes in infrastructure) and soft policies (e.g., public relations campaigns) and addresses both bicyclists and drivers.

There are several broad approaches to education that can be conducted with moderate resources. They include:

  • highlighting bicycle accommodations when introducing new infrastructure;
  • conducting internal campaigns within the organization to build staff support for bicycle safety programs;
  • incorporating bicycle safety messages into public relations efforts;
  • developing relationships with relevant state agencies and statewide consumer groups; and
  • marketing alternative travel modes.

Three specific types of educational campaigns exist: public awareness, targeted campaigns, and individual campaigns. Public awareness campaigns are a great example of a method for garnering public support. An effective campaign can lay the groundwork for subsequent bicycle safety initiatives and can increase the likelihood of their success. Campaigns to target groups are usually aimed at changing behavior patterns in specific groups of people (e.g., motorists, schoolchildren). Since changing behavior in these groups can be a long and arduous task, these campaigns tend to be ongoing efforts aimed at long-term results. Individual campaigns differ from campaigns at target groups because the audience is reached through an intermediary. Intervention occurs at an individual level through public safety officers, crossing guards, doctors, and other authority figures. Using these different approaches in concert reaches a broader audience and increases the likelihood of long-term success in changing attitudes and behaviors.


Bicyclists and/or motorists can be misinformed regarding traffic laws, which may lead to risky or reckless behavior. Bicyclist and driver education can provide information to roadway users and help motivate a change in specific behaviors to reduce the risk of bicyclist injuries.


  • Educational messages should encourage people to think about their own travel attitudes and behaviors and make more informed choices.
  • Educational campaigns must be a part of a long-term and ongoing traffic safety program.
  • As with other education and enforcement initiatives, a long-term commitment is required, both to reinforce learned behaviors and to accommodate new bicyclists and drivers.
  • For children, a comprehensive bicycle safety education program should include an on-bike component.
  • Educational programs and materials should be sensitive of different groups of people.
  • Outreach material should be interesting and involve visual as well as written messages.
  • Difficulty in gaining political support needed to ensure a comprehensive program.
  • Difficulty in introducing safety education within established school system curricula.
  • Once implemented, program effectiveness should be evaluated.

Estimated Cost

Costs may vary widely depending on the type and scope of the educational activity.


To view references for this countermeasure group click here.

Case Studies

Santa Cruz, California
Research Triangle Region, North Carolina
Palo Alto, California
Columbia, Missouri