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Ride Safer with Education

I had a close call with a car this past week. I was crossing Clark street and had pulled up to the intersection to wait for an opening to cross. A car drove up alongside on my left. He got tired of waiting and as I started to cross the street he cut in front of me so close that my front tire touched his rear wheel. I was scared, frustrated and angry -- all at once! We exchanged words but that didn't help.

After calming down, I wondered, what could I have done differently in this situation? For starters, I could have taken the full lane and never encouraged the driver to cut me off. It would have been a clearer signal to the driver. ​

Every bike commuter I know has at least one story about a driver suddenly pulling in front of them. Knowing your options and best practices for riding are important. Fortunately, Ride Illinois has developed a bike safety quiz to help you in this effort.

Bicycle Safety Quiz

The Illinois bike safety quiz was developed as a free resource to help educate cyclists and motorist alike. For instance, did you know that in Illinois,when a motorist passes a bicycle, it's the law to leave at least three feet between their car and the cyclist? Or as a rider, the notion that biking against traffic is the safest option is wrong.

The quiz is designed in a teaching format. It explains the right answer and guides you through the different levels of Bronze, Silver and Gold. There are three different options to choose:

  • Adult bicyclists

  • Motorists

  • Child bicyclists

As an experienced cyclist, I figured I would know everything on the quiz and easily pass. However, it was more challenging than I expected. During the quiz I learned several new things about Illinois state law and cycling.

​Eventually, I finished and earned a certificate of completion, which might come in handy in the future.


Impact of the Bike Safety Quiz

Since the quiz was launched in June 2013, over 30,000 people have taken it. At the Illinois Bike Summit, I spoke with Ed Barsotti, executive Director of Ride Illinois about the quiz. One of the audiences his organization targets is Driver Ed Classes. Currently the quiz is available in 60 high schools and endorsed by the Illinois Driver Ed Association. 

Another audience are municipalities that use the quiz as part of their law enforcement efforts. In Champaign, IL for instance if a cyclist is given a ticket for breaking the law they have an opportunity to have the ticket rescinded by successfully completing the quiz. Similar measures exist in Highland Park and Lakeforest, IL.

Some bike clubs are now requiring members to take the quiz in addition to wearing a helmet, as prerequisites for membership.

Now if I can only find that impatient driver from last week, I'd suggest he take the quiz as well. We could all use a little more street smarts. 

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