Photos: Bike safety campaigns that could be a model for Denver's

Cycling feature cover image.jpg
One piece of the puzzle of Denver's growth as a bike city, explored in-depth in this week's feature, "On a Roll," is the city's initiative to launch a bike-safety campaign. The effort's been in the works for months, given the rise in collisions between cyclists and cars. Top city officials met in August to discuss ideas for a marketing push. Here, we take a closer look at efforts in other cities that Denver is looking to for guidance.

In the lengthy and sometimes heated meeting back in August, officials from Public Works, the police department, the mayor's Office of Sustainability and other agencies joined bike advocates and local civic groups to discuss the challenge of bike safety and what kind of campaign could help contribute to the solution. The stakes for this effort were elevated by the high-profile hit-and-run earlier this summer that left a cyclist dead on Lincoln and Speer.

Steve Sander, who is heading a marketing effort scheduled to launch sometime next spring, led the meeting, explaining to those in attendance that the goal was specific: to discuss the best options for messaging in a safe-streets campaign. He opened, saying:

Today's meeting is about, is there a role for a public-safety campaign and how could we use a public-safety campaign as a rallying cry to get everybody to focus on how their behavior might affect what's going on on the streets?
However, the discussion quickly veered into contentious debates about who is actually at fault in collisions and how a city can meaningfully create safer streets. At stake are complicated questions of how cities and advertisements can actually encourage behavior changes.

Before things got too heated, though, Sander handed out colorful printouts of campaigns at other cities that have already launched different initiatives aimed at safe cycling and sharing the road. While looking through these, officials debated what kind of message would be most effective. Most agreed that a campaign that is inclusive and positive -- and doesn't unnecessarily demonize cyclists or drivers with negative reminders about laws -- would probably work best.

The full report is below, but here are some highlights of campaigns that could be models for Denver.

San Francisco

San Francisco bike safety campaign.jpg
Public Works handout

San Francisco has a "Coexist Campaign," which has this message, according to the Municipal Transportation Agency:

Increased competition for space on the streets can sometimes make moving around San Francisco a less-than-pleasant, even intimidating experience.

With an increasing number of people using bicycles for transportation in San Francisco (1 in 25 adults, according to David Binder Research Poll, 1998), there is an increased need to accommodate bicyclists and motorists on shared streets.

The San Francisco effort is focused on changing people's behavior, with this kind of goal:
We expect to start a dialogue between motorists and bicyclists about their interactions on the streets. Too often, we stereotype a group of road users based just on one or two isolated experiences. This campaign will remind us that the vast majority of people -- whether driving or riding bikes -- want to do the right thing, to share the road, and to just get along. By starting a public dialogue about co-existing on the streets, we hope more people will show a little more patience and a little more civility on the road.
Here are some other images from the Coexist Campaign, via

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SFMTA ad campaign 2.jpg

Continue for campaigns from Minneapolis, Chicago, Portland and Washington D.C.

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