I had the great privilege of interviewing Stephanie Jim this week about the Berkeley Family Festival and Bike Rodeo that happened two weekends ago. Stephanie works as an Injury Prevention Program Intern with the City of Berkeley, and she co-organized this year’s event with the program’s director, Amy Ranger. After writing about my own bike safety experience and recommendations yesterday, it was nice to hear from someone who really knows her stuff.
Here’s what she had to say:
Kaitlin: This year’s Family Festival & Bike Rodeo is the 7th Annual. Why do you think this event has been so successful over the years?
Stephanie: Over the years, the faltering condition of our public health, economy and environment have been discussed in great detail, and it is clear that these conditions will get better only after we change our ways of living or thinking. One change that tends to be highlighted is the movement to bring back biking and walking as viable means of transportation. Looking at all the bike and pedestrian related campaigns and organizations, it is apparent that these simple and accessible solutions are catching on. Sadly, though, the rise in bikers and pedestrians is reflected as well in the increase in number of bike and pedestrian related accidents. Fortunately, many of these accidents can be avoided or made less severe through education and outreach, and as a result, injury prevention programs are on the rise. Ultimately, injury prevention programs serve as a tool to support the public’s interest in biking and walking, and therefore, it is the public’s enthusiasm that drives programs such as the Berkeley Family Festival and Bike Rodeo to success.
Kaitlin: I’d be interested to know how many people/families came to take advantage of the health screenings, bike safety checks, and all the other great events. How was turnout?
Stephanie: We had about 300 kids turn out. Each child who attended was encouraged to attend 6 bike safety related events listed on their passports, and were checked before receiving their Tshirts and other various goodies. The 6 events included:
1. Mock City of Berkeley
2. Boulevard Tour
3. Obstacle Course
4. Safety Workshop
5. Smoothie Run
6. Route Mapping
Kaitlin: There is a tremendous presence of cyclists in the East Bay, specifically Berkeley. Yet, it seems that so many people have been in car vs. bike accidents. What do you think of the current state of awareness/education for drivers, and how can we make driving with cyclists an easier task? What about education for cyclists in the rules of the road?
Stephanie: The East Bay is extremely fortunate to have a growing number of cyclists. Though it seems bleak that bike and pedestrian accidents are on the rise, I remain optimistic these numbers will soon be falling. The educational resources that exist are both comprehensive and up-to-date, and the delivery of the messages by various organizations is accessible to those who seek support. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that the tremendous presence of cyclists and pedestrians is a relatively new phenomenon to motorists. With such a sudden rise, it is inevitable that there will be an adjustment period where all three groups will have to find a new balance. I feel confident that as long as road safety education continues to be accessible, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians will learn to coexist on the road.
Stephanie points out that though there has been an increase in accidents, she believes the numbers will fall soon. Hopefully she’s right. In the meantime, consider her point about the relative newness for motorists of so many cyclists and pedestrians—it may take a while for the drivers of the world to get used to all those who are moving under their own power! Be careful riding around out there, and use the resources that are in place!