ACHD Airing Bike Safety PSAs


The Ada County Highway District is distributing a pair of public service announcements to local television stations, urging cyclists and motorists to give one another space on the road.

According to ACHD spokeswoman Robbie Johnson, the PSAs were originally produced by San Luis Obispo Bicycle Coalition in California and have been used in other places as well, including in Olympia, Wash. So far, channels 2, 7 and 12 have aired them and Johnson said 6 has received a copy as well. Incidentally, the local stations that use ACHDs traffic cameras are required to air the agency's PSAs as well, and Johnson said they must run a “minimum twenty (20) thirty (30) second commercial spots at no cost on an annual basis.” though Johnson said there is no quota or specific time slot when they must run. (Channel 6 does not broadcast the traffic cameras).

This is what ACHD sent out to the stations in July:

We have heard from bicyclists who have complained about bad behavior on behalf of motor vehicle drivers. Motor vehicle drivers have also spoken up about bicyclists who aren’t courteous. We all need to share the road — there is room for drivers and riders, and it’s the law. This is the message of the PSAs. One is directed toward bicyclists, and serves as a reminder to be considerate of motor vehicle drivers; the other PSA reminds motor vehicle drivers to make some room for bicyclists. By reminding people to share the road, ACHD hopes to raise public awareness of the presence of bicyclists on the roadway. Through this effort, we hope to encourage a safer street system for all residents of Ada County.

Kristin Armstrong starred in another PSA this summer, sponsored by CableOne. Here are the ACHD PSAs with a point of discussion below.

Both of these ads offer decent, simple messages. But I still fail to understand this obsession with the equivalency of biking and driving that has suffused the discussion this past summer in Boise. Cyclists do not kill drivers, thus if both share a right to the road, the major onus for safety is on automobile and truck operators. Furthermore, the equivalency argument, reinforced by this pair of PSAs, allows drivers mental space to be infuriated and enraged by the actions of cyclists, leading to a spiral of aggressive driving and injury.