Montclair Police Department is trying a two-phase approach to enhance awareness of bicycle safety, with the commencement of a new Bicycle/Skateboard Safety Initiative, again in collaboration with its main partner/coordinator of the project, Tracey Diamond, of Tracey Diamond Design.
Bike&Walk Montclair has responded with its concerns about the initiative. Paul Mickiewicz, Bike&Walk Montclair Board Member and Bike Education Committee Chair, writes:
The new Montclair Police Bicycle/Skateboard Safety Initiative: Warning Summons and Reward Program is undoubtedly well intentioned. Bike&Walk Montclair advocates for policies, programs, and street designs that support SAFE biking and walking.
Rewards and incentives are a positive step and are one of the “E’s”,(encouragement), however, the the evidence around unintended negative consequences of helmet laws is very compelling. It is admittedly easier to focus on helmets for people on bikes, skateboards and scooters than addressing the real threat to our safety, large, fast moving vehicles.
Bike&Walk Montclair is concerned about any strategies that might discourage those forms of active transportation. We understand that this initiative is about more than just getting people to wear helmets. We agree that whether you are “driving” a bike, skate board or car, managing driver behavior through education and enforcement are two very important “E’s” to helping keep people safe on the street. Understanding and following traffic law, (particularly speed), help to make all moving parts more predictable and safer. But let us be clear, the focus of Bike&Walk Montclair’s efforts to keep the most vulnerable road users safe is more about the biggest “E”, engineering!
Adopting and implementing the Montclair SAFE Complete Streets Plan, which has been stalled at the Planning Board for 3 years, is where our efforts and resources should be directed. Let’s focus more on positive interactions between the police and the most vulnerable road users, (particularly young teens), while directing the enforcement on those that create the greatest risk and are the least vulnerable.