North Florida Bicycle Club Advocacy Program
Advocacy - what is it?
noun: advocacy - active support of an idea or cause etc.; especially the act of pleading or arguing for something. In this case, improving conditions and attitudes affecting bicyclists.
Definition: Assertiveness is a form of communication in which needs or wishes are stated clearly with respect for oneself and the other person in the interaction. Assertive communication is distinguished from passive communication (in which needs or wishes go unstated) and aggressive communication (in which needs or wishes are stated in a hostile or demanding manner).
Cooperation Mayors Proclamation
The goal of the Bicyclists' Advocacy program at the North Florida Bicycle Club is to improve bicycling safety, access and respect for Club members, by advocating for bicyclists' rights in North Florida.
All of our *advocacy * efforts begin with the *Bicyclists' Bill of Rights*, officially endorsed by the Board of Directors of the North Florida Bicycle Club. We apply these rights to everyday situations affecting our members as they ride in North Florida. It was due to our efforts that the copyright owners of the Bicyclists' Bill of Rights amended the document to meet Florida requirements and to allow us to use it officially.
What we do:
We make every effort to use *assertive communication* skills to secure these rights in an effective manner.
We report and follow up on road hazards.
We represent NFBC on the City of Jacksonville Bicycle Advisory Committee
We meet with the Cyclists' Representative of the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office to improve issues affecting members, such as equal enforcement accident reporting and officer training in cycling law.
We work with local Florida Dept. of Transportation engineers to assure legally required access on State Highways and Roads.
We secure the *cooperation*of public officials in our cause.
We educate our members and the public on bicyclists' rights and responsibilities.
We provide a “New Rider” package for participating bike shops to educate new riders on safety, legal, group riding and club issues.
We join with and support other cycling organizations, such as the Florida Bicycle Association and the Jacksonville Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory committee to affect meaningful and lasting change.
What we have accomplished:
We have been able to establish positive relationships with the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) We convinced JSO to address the problem of officer bias against bicyclists with an accident reporting system and officer education program. JSO has appointed Chief John Lamb as liaison with the bicycling community and Chief Lamb scrutinizes all Duval County bicycle crash reports. Chief Lamb represents the JSO on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
City of Jacksonville (COJ) We persuaded previous mayor John Peyton to issue a *Proclamation* noting equality for bicycling with other transportation modes and to consider the use of sharrows. We have successfully had a number of hazards to cyclists such as potholes, debris, glass, etc, corrected promptly and continue to have cooperation from COJ public works and FDOT maintenance. We also provide support for the COJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. We represent the NFBC at the City of Jacksonville Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council, which is functioning as an informal advocacy group.
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Our relationship with FDOT resulted in an internal education program for the rights of cyclists to access in construction zones; improved warning signs at the intersection of I-95 and Old St. Augustine Rd. where a motorist killed Chastity Rettiger and injured her cycling companion.
Upcoming is the placement of bicycling signs in the “gap” on Atlantic Blvd. between San Pablo Rd and Florida Blvd to provide greater motorist and cyclist awareness. FDOT has installed sharrows on Park in front of the Kummer Museum and will soon install them on the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. We have participated in internal safety programs at FDOT and the Jacksonville Transit Authority.
We have successfully advocated for signal timing changes on several popular routes so cyclists can safely cross major intersections without getting caught facing a red light.
One of our unfulfilled goals is the wide placement of the NFBC “Same Rights, Same Roads, Same Rules” campaign. We have many vehicle signs waiting to be placed and will continue to seek placement of these signs in our community.
We have successfully addressed numerous commercial firms that have violated bicyclists' rights of way and placed our riders in jeopardy, and in all cases our efforts have been met with appreciation by the firms involved. No company wants its drivers disobeying the law and placing cyclists in jeopardy.
What Can You Do?
Report road hazards to cyclists such as potholes, debris, defective signals, etc., promptly to 630-CITY (630-2489) or online at http://630city.coj.net/ and follow up to make sure your request is taken care of. Ask your city council person for help if you don't receive a prompt response. OR, contact your NFBC advocate Bert Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org Be specific in what the hazard is and the location. It is the cities' responsibility to come up with the solution. Don't try to tell them how to do their job.
Know Your Rights. Become familiar with the Bicyclists' Bill of Rights.*
Display the “Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules” sign on your vehicle. These signs are available from the Membership Director or the NFBC Bicyclists' Advocate.
Know the Florida Statutes as they apply to bicyclists. Set a personal example. Follow the law and ride courteously responsibly. This will increase the respect of others for cyclists and increase everyone's safety.
Report motorists that endanger you or other cyclists to the police. While it is difficult to get a tag number of a car when you are in a high state of arousal from being in danger it is almost always possible to do this with commercial vehicles. Call the company and report the offender and the offense. Let them know how you feel. Most companies want to know if their drivers are not driving responsibly. If you don't feel comfortable in doing this yourself, contact your NFBC advocate Bert Shaw with complete details, time, location, vehicle number and behavior.
Let your legislators and politicians know that you care about bicycling and that you vote.
Have a positive outlook. Things are getting better and together we will continue to make progress.
Advocacy is an ongoing process that requires vigilance, persistence and dedication. Your NFBC Board of Directors recognizes the need and supports advocacy as do others in our community. Bicycle attorney Chris Burns has honored us with a financial donation to NFBC supporting our efforts.
Bert W. Shaw, M.A. Bicyclists' Advocate, General Director, North Florida Bicycle Club.