Change Lanes To Pass [Bike Walk Mississippi] (August 12th, 2016)

Through education and enforcement, this is the story of how one police officer significantly improved the safety of bicyclists on roadways.

Lessons from the 2016 Mississippi Bike Walk Summit: Part 2

“Officer Rob Simmons of the Chattanooga Police Department (“CPD”) is not your average policeman. For nearly a decade, he’s been patrolling by bicycle. One recent bicyclist’s death motivated Rob to become perhaps the most effective bicycle policeman ever known — pushing for reform and new safety technology that’s being adopted nationwide. After he accepted Bike Walk Mississippi’s invitation to speak at the Mississippi Get to B Bike Walk Summit, Simmons recounted his journey to a statewide audience at the Summit in Biloxi this past August.

In 2009, David Meek was hit and killed while riding his bicycle on a four lane roadway in Chattanooga. A grand jury declined to indict the at-fault driver. Tension between bicyclists and motorists spiked to a fever pitch. Officer Rob saw an opportunity to address the standoff and improve safety for all roadway users. But one impediment stood in his way: the bicycling community’s lack of faith in police for not properly enforcing rules of the road against culpable drivers in collisions. Few, if any, citations were being issued against drivers who hit bicyclists (as in the case of David Meek).

Rob came up with a four-step plan to reverse this downward spiral. This plan was designed to educate police, motorists, and bicyclists about what traffic laws apply. It was also designed improve safety through enforcement. At the Bike Walk Summit, he shared this plan as a model for the police departments from across Mississippi whose officers attended the presentation.



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