City Hall

Here's Dallas' New Campaign to Make Drivers Be More Courteous to Cyclists

When the City Council passed new rules in December laying down a $300 fine on any driver caught cutting off, or throwing things at or otherwise behaving dangerously around bicyclists, there was an acknowledged need for a public awareness campaign to let drivers know about the new rules.

No one was expecting a glitzy, multi-million-dollar ad campaign, but certainly it wouldn't have cost much money or effort to outdo this brochure, which popped up on the Dallas Police Department's web site today.

We won't linger on the less-than-eye catching design or the brochure's claim that there are 90 miles of shared bike lanes in the city, which seems awfully high. (There were zero miles all of nine months ago.)

The bigger problem is that the brochure makes no attempt to translate City Hall legalese into plain, easy-to-understand English. While the writers could have something clear and concise (e.g. FUCK WITH CYCLISTS, PAY $300), they opted instead to regurgitate the ordinance word for word, guaranteeing that no one will read the brochure and negating its very reason for existence.

They had no such trouble spelling out what's expected of cyclists. This was a major point of contention when the council first discussed the new rules, the apparent rationale being that if bicyclists want "special" treatment -- like, you know, not being stabbed -- they should stop rolling through stop signs.

Just as council members made sure to include a redundant provision to the cyclist protection measure -- reminding them, once again, to follow all traffic laws -- the brochure included a bulleted list of "friendly reminders" for two-wheeled commuters.

Even less necessary is the brief section that follows, entitled: "You are every cyclist and every cyclist is you."

"The reputation of all cyclists is hampered by the few who ride outside the law," it reads. "Riding by the same set of rules as motorists makes you predictable and greatly reduces your risk of a crash. Law abiding actions send a message to motorists: 'I belong here and I'm going to share the road in a predictable and courteous way: just as I expect you to.'"

See the whole piece below.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson