Absolutely! It is important that both safety and the benefits of riding a bicycle are continuously communicated to both the general public and our youth. The more people are aware, the better. More and more studies are being released about the economical, physical, and mental benefits of biking. A great resource is the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s Report “Bicycling and Walking in the United States.: 2010 Benchmarking Report” because it holds 200 pages full of data on bicycling and walking in the U.S. It ranks the 50 states and 51 largest U.S. cities on a number of biking and walking related benchmarks and most importantly shows that the government’s lack of investment in biking and walking could be contributing to higher traffic fatalities and chronic disease rates in the U.S. Just like many other educational resources, this document provides factual information about biking and will help in educating leaders and the general population about the active mode of transportation and encouraging everyone to pedal more!
Bike education will definitely get more people interested in riding bikes. My company actually had a educational seminar to help more people get interested in riding their bikes to work. As far as I know, there were many people who were interested in riding bikes after the seminar. I think people need to become more exposed to the positive environmental impacts and convenience of bike riding for short-medium range distances.
Ultimately, I think that as long as it is a choice, what will make someone stick with biking as a primary source of transportation is the joy of it. Some people can take consolation in that the actions they take are “good” or “right” but this stands weak against the motivation to do something because you really like to do it, or it saves money. So, I agree the more exposure people have to bikes, bike safety etc the more likely they are to see the benefits, both personal and societal. So, education could go a long way, but not necessarily just because people would learn that it is a “good” thing to do, but because they learn that they actually like it better.
I think that it might have an impact, but it has to be convincing people about the benefits that they get. It is very hard to get people to do something if there is no direct benefit for themselves. Even if biking is the most efficient way of transportation people will still use cars because it’s more comfortable. Generally people don’t like changes and shifting to pedal power is a big change for most people. Education will get people’s opinion, most will even agree that biking is a good thing but will still ignore the opportunity to cycle if there is an more comfortable alternative.
In an ideal world people would understand that they’re comfort isn’t the biggest concern, but in reality most people don’t care about anything but themselves.
Internationally, knowledge of how to bicycle (and drive) well is very low so there is a huge potential for improvement through educations. We hardly even know how to teach people the basics skill for learning to ride — see the comments on the link to the video below.
I was once in a class that was intended to be “Intro to Bike Maintenance”, but which turned into “Intro to Bike Commuting” (because many in the class had never commuted via bike and had a lot of questions). By the time the class was over more than half of those novices were ready to try it. I think it is intimidating for people to set out without some background information about what to expect. Knowing the rules of the road, what to watch out for, what to wear, etc. seemed to help those people feel willing to try. In addition, here in Seattle, the roads are very bike friendly, which makes a big difference in people’s willingness to ride in a city. I think education is the ticket to a greener form of daily transportation. Out local biking club offers a lot of classes along these lines: http://www.cbcef.org/classes-bike.html (I wish more places made classes like this possible!)
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