Tuesday, May 15, 2012

AAA Bicycle Safety Videos Offer Mixed Messages

The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the League of American Bicyclists have teamed up to produce a series of bicycle safety videos.  The short films emphasize the "Share The Road" philosophy and offer tips on how cyclists and drivers can do so.  I've watched three of the videos (see below).  They're ok.  There is nothing particularly new or compelling about the information provided or the production approach.  If I have one complaint it is that they emphasize cycling as a recreation activity, showing helmeted children in school parking lots, lycra clad athletes and hybrid riders on bike paths.  The videos emphasize that cyclists should wear helmets AT ALL TIMES! and should don day-glow clothing to improve their chances of being seen by motorists.  There is nothing wrong with this advice.  But by reenforcing cycling as a recreational activity requiring protective gear and special clothing, the message that bicycles are valid transportation tools deserving of equal respect on the road gets watered-down or perhaps lost all together.  The images in the videos encourage motorists to see bicycling as either a child's game or a frivolous activity.  I would have rather seen folks commuting to work, moms carting kids and delivery riders on cargo bikes depicted.  It would have been nice to see people just going about their ordinary lives on bikes.  That would have sent a much stronger message.

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