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EHEI Category: Encouraging Nonmotorized Transportation

Ohio: How We Roll Bicycle Education Campaign

Photo of 2 bicycles.
How We Roll distributed free bicycle lights to OSU students.
(Courtesy of Fulcrum Creatives, LLC)

In 2010, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Safety, and Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs jointly funded Yay Bikes! to implement How We Roll, an innovative strategy focused on education, encouragement, and enforcement to improve bicyclists' safety within high-crash geographies. How We Roll, developed with support from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, was ODOT's first effort to create a bicycle outreach campaign, which aimed to address safety issues identified during a Yay Bikes! analysis of existing conditions.

The How We Roll Bicycle Education Campaign is a peer-based strategy to teach students at The Ohio State University (OSU) safe road cycling practices and change their bicycling behaviors. The intersections and corridors bordering OSU are some of the most dangerous areas for cyclists within the state. How We Roll aims to better understand the nature and extent of unsafe bicycling behaviors on and around the OSU campus and to decrease the incidence of unsafe bicycling among OSU students.

As part of the initiative, Yay Bikes! first reviewed crash data and conducted rigorous bicycle counts and behavior observations around and near campus. An analysis of this data led to three targeted safety issues: failure to yield at red lights and stop signs; failure to equip bicycles with lights for night riding; and bicyclists riding on sidewalks. The How We Roll Bicycle Education Campaign evolved out of this data analysis and used positive messaging strategies, free educational bike tours, and bicycle light giveaways to tackle these safety issues within the OSU community.

How We Roll's primary obstacle was that bicycle safety is not traditionally a topic of interest to many OSU students; typical approaches, such as safety courses or literature, were unlikely to elicit behavior change among these young adults. To overcome this challenge, How We Roll focused on generating a fun and exciting community around bicycling in which safety was the norm. The program appeared to originate from a student organization, rather than from government or OSU's administration, and peers taught safety in the context of a social bicycle tour around Columbus, Ohio.

Thirteen small business owners partnered with How We Roll and offered free food or merchandise to tour riders. These tour stops created a casual environment where instructors could discuss safety techniques while exposing students unfamiliar with the city to a new business, park, or community. Small business owners also enjoyed the publicity and new customers generated by the How We Roll initiative. Within the first three months of the program, over 900 students participated in and were positively affected by the How We Roll Safety Education Campaign.

For more information, contact Heather Bowden, Ohio Department of Transportation, at Heather.Bowden@dot.state.oh.us, or Meredith Joy, Yay Bikes!, at Meredith@yaybikes.com.

Photo of 'Rules of the Road' literature.
The Rules of the Road safety literature provides guidance on safe city cycling.
(Courtesy of Fulcrum Creatives, LLC)
Updated: 11/15/2012
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