TA’s “Biking Rules” Campaign Takes the High Route

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Transportation Alternatives yesterday launched an ambitious new campaign to change how cyclists are perceived -- and how they perceive themselves -- in New York City. 

At its core, "Biking Rules" is, as TA puts it, "aimed at promoting civic riding and easing bike-pedestrian friction." But the campaign, embodied in a new cyclist handbook and tricked-out website, is not intended as a vehicle for lecturing riders on the Idaho stop. Rather, says TA's Caroline Samponaro, it's about "giving people the information they need" to be safe and courteous travelers in dense urban environs -- and establishing the cyclist as no less than a role model in what TA (and all livable streets advocates) hope will be a new, people-first hierarchy on 21st-century city streets.

To that end, there's the Biking Rules 50-page handbook, with city cycling tips, rules, a summary of cyclists' rights on the road, bike shop locations and more. Info on how to order, as well as a PDF edition, will be on the website soon, but there's plenty to keep you busy until then. Among the site's features:
  • personal "safest route" mapping (in partnership with Ride the City), allowing those with user accounts to create, store and share multiple routes;
  • Twitter feeds with updated bridge condition reports and the latest community board-level bike lane news;
  • a "Dear BR" page for users to submit questions on city cycling;
  • photo, video and event sharing (Flickr and YouTube tag functions are pending);
  • links to much of the information found in Biking Rules handbook.

In June, TA will launch a contest for cyclists to submit their own safe cycling public service shorts, to be featured at a public screening.

Just as the space-hogging, speeding automobile has shaped public attitudes over the better part of the last 100 years, Samponaro says Biking Rules is out to establish street-level civility as the "contagious behavior" of the future. Cyclists, she says, can set the tone by turning what has become an undeniable, if largely unfair, image problem on its head.

"Let's not let other people shape the public image of cycling," says Samponaro. "Cyclists should shape the public image of cycling."