The desired outcome of any Safe Passing Ordinance or Vulnerable Users Law is behavioral change of drivers to ensure safe usage of streets by multiple transportation modes. While enforcement is valuable for spot treatment of known problem areas, education and outreach is needed to ensure that large segments of the public are not only aware the law exists, but what their responsibilities are per the law so that they can ensure they provide enough space to bicycle riders, and other vulnerable users, while driving.
Typically education and outreach campaigns have been launched in parallel with the start of an enforcement activity utilizing the C3FT so that the story has multiple facets creating additional interest within local media outlets, which drives coverage. And more coverage, means more people are reached with the campaign.
The C3FT device has received national level media attention, as well as local media in the municipalities which have deployed devices, from a range of publications which are not bicycling related. This is key since drivers, rather than bicycle riders, are the target audience. High volume media coverage to the general public, so that the average driver is aware of the specifics of the law, will hopefully correspond to an increase in safe passing behavior of all Vulnerable Users (pedestrians, people on bikes, road workers, etc). Not because most people are intentionally making close passes, but because when making passes, drivers may not understand or be thinking about how close they may be passing.
The importance of education is made clear by Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher:
“The mission is to improve the safety of the most vulnerable road users by improving relationships between motorists and cyclists, to help motorists understand the risks for bicycles. Most of the things motorists are doing is from lack of understanding, rather than malicious effort. Most people will act more safely if they understand the issues and risks.”
TV Coverage of Chattanooga Safe Biking Initiative’s Education and Outreach Program