'Educational stings' target cyclists and motorists
Some cyclists last night were caught off guard by police officers who pulled them over at a Logan Square intersection.
The stops were part of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s “Share the Road” traffic safety campaign. The campaign is led by the City of Chicago's Bicycle Ambassadors, who’ve been promoting safety for all road users - bike riders, motorists, and pedestrians – in the city for more than 10 years.
Over the course of an hour in Logan Square last night, Bicycling Ambassadors and police officers gave out 100 bike headlights and traffic safety handouts. Police sergeant Joe Giambrone said that cyclists don’t always know what to expect when they see police officers and the brightly attired Bicycle Ambassadors waving them off the road.
“At first when we’re pulling them over, they’ll be like, ‘ah man!’ and then we’re like, ‘Well, we’re not giving you a ticket, you have the option of getting the headlight.’”
“So it turns these frowns into happy faces. It’s kind of nice,” said Giambrone.
Carlin Thomas, program coordinator for Share the Road, says that cyclists and motorists aren’t always aware of the traffic laws covering cyclists in the city. The Bicycling Ambassador’s outreach focuses on the most common bicycling traffic violations: failing to stop at a stop sign, riding on the sidewalk (only riders under the age of 12 may do so), and riding without a white light headlight and/or rear reflector between dusk and dawn.
Ambassadors also educate motorists for violations such as distracted driving and parking in the bike lane.
Last year, the Ambassadors report reaching more than 13,000 Chicagoans at 51 unique intersections during 62 Share the Road events. More than 1,600 front white headlights were also given out to cyclists. The headlights are provided by the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation, chambers of commerce, and participating aldermen.
During last night’s event, 35th Ward Alderman Rey Colon rolled up to the Logan Square intersection on his own fully decked out bike and said the work of the Bicycle Ambassadors and police is part of the city’s movement to be more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.
“A lot of times there’s hostility between cars and bikes. I think our city is heading more and more towards a pedestrian first, bicycling second, motorists third type of priority trying to get people to get active and get out. But to do that we have to make it safe for them to ride, safe for them to walk, and also let drivers know that they have to share the road,” said Colon.
July is the busiest month for the Bicycling Ambassadors with more than 40 educational events planned for this week alone.