Educating the Uneducated

Written by Mona Wills - August 2019

3 feetIt was exciting news when Governor Holcomb signed HB 1236, also known as the “three feet law” on May 2, 2019. That law took effect on July 1, 2019 and there was almost a collective sigh of relief that finally cyclists in Indiana could ride knowing there they were given legal rights and protection when traveling on roads and streets.


The pragmatic side to this law is just because it became law on July 1st didn’t mean that drivers were suddenly going to pass respectfully by going into the opposite lane or at the very least yielding to the three feet passing distance. It also didn’t necessarily mean that local police officers were patiently parked along the roads or streets looking for infractions of the law and then immediately going after the drivers to enforce it.

This week in Indianapolis there was an auto/bike collision. A local television station posted on their Facebook page Cyclist killed after getting hit by SUV on Indy’s south side. Here are a few comments from that post that reflect the mindset of some uneducated motorists. “You got to watch out for these cycles, because many think they own the road. They do not care if you are turning, because if you hit them they know its your fault. Many times I have had them cross an intersection right into my path clearly seeing I have my blinker on to turn right they just keep going by trying to beat you to the intersection.” “there is no reason for a bicycle to be on a road with a car they belong on side walks.” “… because it's the law you'd rather risk your life riding on the road than to ride on the sidewalk and risk a small fine? Lol ok just let natural selection take its course I guess 😂😂😂” “was it an exercise cyclist or a necessity cyclist? bc the former being hit would not bother me any more than holding up traffic bothers them.” That was Indianapolis area people talking but it could have easily been right in Ft Wayne and the surrounding communities.

So how do we as cyclists get people to think and act differently? Education. The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values. One such source of education is Bicycle Indiana’s website www.bicycleindiana.org The website has a section with the heading of Get Informed. Under that is a subtitle Know the Law which has multiple PDFs that can be printed and/or downloaded. I would suggest posting them on your own Facebook page, your work place website or bulletin board (do those even exist anymore?) or taking some to your church, the Y, or school, and posting in appropriate places. The more people read the information presented the more informed they will become. And maybe, just maybe, some of those people will begin to have a change of attitude and will respect and accept cyclists riding on the roads and streets.