Applicable Countermeasures

Students in the BikeEd Hawaii program practice signalling right turns on neighborhood streets.

Photo by Libby Thomas

Photo by Libby Thomas
view image
Photo by Libby Thomas
view image

Bicyclist Education

Although many of the countermeasures identified in this guide have focused on improving the roadway environment for bicyclists, a comprehensive approach to bicyclist safety encompasses education and enforcement as well as engineering. Not only do bicyclists need safe places to ride, they need to know how to ride skillfully and how to interact safely with motorists on the roadway, whether at intersections or midblock. This is true regardless of the age of the bicyclist. For example, bicyclists can be taught the importance of following traffic rules and regulations, the hazards of riding at night without proper lights, the hazards of wrong-way and sidewalk riding, and other skills and behaviors important to safe riding. Bicyclists can also be trained to be aware of maneuvers motorists tend to make at intersections that can be dangerous for a bicyclist, such as speeding through an amber signal indication or running a red light, turning right on red, making a right turn soon after overtaking a cyclist, etc. Similarly, bicyclists need to be aware of potentially dangerous midblock motorist maneuvers, such as turning across lanes of traffic, turning into or out of a driveway, turning into or out of a parking space, etc.

Bicyclist educational programs can be carried out at many levels, from distributing brochures or showing videos to comprehensive school-based on-bike programs, and target audiences can range from young preschool-age children to seniors.

In 1998, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) convened a steering group of bicycle safety experts to develop a National Bicycle Safety Education Curriculum.2 The resulting guide (also available on CD-ROM from NHTSA) identifies and prioritizes the specific topic areas that should be addressed for various target audiences, and includes a resource catalog with information on training programs that address each of the various topics. The Resource Catalog is also available as an online searchable database ( Users can search the database by key word(s), by a specific target audience (e.g., young bicyclists ages nine through 12; adult bicyclists; motorists), and by selected topic or subtopic areas (bicycle-riding skills, rules of the road, essential equipment, riding for health and fitness, etc.) to find an education curriculum that is suited to their needs.

More recently, FHWA has developed a Good Practices Guide for Bicycle Safety Education ( that contains case study descriptions of 16 programs spanning riders of all ages, along with helpful information on planning, funding, implementing, and evaluating a program in your own community or state.3

FHWA’s Web site also contains links to many bicyclist safety education programs, tools and resources that can be used by professionals planning a program as well as by individual bicyclists ( For example, the section for young cyclists ages nine through 12 contains links to sites with information on choosing the right bike and helmet and how to park and secure your bike, among others. The section for adult cyclists contains links to materials available from the League of American Bicyclists covering areas ranging from "A Guide to Commuting for the Employee" to "How to Shift and Change Gears" to "Bike Maintenance 101." With ready access to these resources, program developers do not need to reinvent the wheel to implement a bicycle safety education program, and young and old riders alike can readily find the information they need to be safer riders.


  • Teach cyclists of all ages safe bicycling skills, including how to interact with motorists in traffic, both at intersections and midblock.
  • Teach cyclists the importance of having a bike that fits, maintaining the bike in good condition, and always wearing a helmet when riding.
  • Encourage bicycling as part of a healthy lifestyle.

top of page


  • Although many bicycle safety education materials and programs exist, it is important to choose the right program for your particular needs and situation.
  • For children, a comprehensive bicycle safety education program should include an on-bike component.
  • Available funding, time, space, and teacher education and training are all important considerations when selecting a bicycle safety education program.
  • It is also important that once implemented, program effectiveness be evaluated.
  • As with other education and enforcement initiatives, a long-term commitment is required, both to reinforce learned behaviors and to accommodate new bicyclists.

top of page

Estimated Cost

Costs will vary greatly, depending upon the type and scope of the educational activity. Disseminating safety brochures or simply showing a bike safety video will be much less expensive than, for example, a system-wide school-based program that includes on-bike instruction.

Among coalition-provided programs, the Hawaii Bicycling League estimates that Bike Ed Hawaii costs between $23 and $28 per student which provides three instructors per class for a week-long on-bicycle safety and skills training course of approximately 45 minutes per day. All instructor salaries, equipment (fleet of bikes, helmets, safety jerseys), vehicle costs, and a percentage of office support is covered under the Bike Ed budget. Bikes and helmets are replaced every other year. The Oregon Bicycle Transportatiaon Alliance estimates that their Bicycle Safety Education Program, a 7 to 10 day course of 45 to 60 minutes daily involving classroom and on-bicycle training, costs approximately $800 per class (for anywhere from 12 to 30 students). This program also provides instructors (one per class), bikes and helmets, and transportation of the bikes to program sites.

In North Carolina, the Office of Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation provided $5,000 mini-grants to elementary schools wanting to teach the Basics of Bicycling, an on-bike bicycle safety education program for elementary school age children. The amount covered the cost of trailers for storing and transporting bicycles ($2,000 to $2,500 depending on length); the purchase of 20 to 30 bicycles at $105 to $120 each (a discounted price negotiated with a local bicycle shop); and helmets at a cost of $5 each (recommend purchasing 35 helmets for a class of 30 students, with varying sizes to allow for proper fitting). The program also required some props (traffic signs, bike fronts, etc.), which schools generally made themselves for a minimal cost.

top of page

Case Studies

top of page