DOT Sets New Bike Safety Program
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has announced the launch of the “Don’t Be A Jerk” bike safety ad campaign, featuring celebrities Mario Batali, John Leguizamo and Paulina Porizkova on bikes humorously highlighting essential do’s and don’ts of safe, responsible riding that are crucial to keeping New York City’s streets as safe as they can be for everyone using them, including cyclists. The new ads combine satire and humor to convey the need for bicyclists to follow the rules of the road, including always yielding to pedestrians; riding with traffic, not against it; and riding on the street, not on the sidewalks (unless the rider is age 12 or younger). “Don’t Be a Jerk” is part of DOT’s larger Bike Smart initiative, which includes the Bike Smart Pledge and the “LOOK” ad campaign, designed to educate cyclists and other road users about sharing the streets and roadways safely. According to DOT’s latest Sustainable Streets Index, commuter cycling increased 262 percent in New York City from 2000 to 2010. The new ads can be viewed at nyc.gov.
“As our streets have become safer and as more New Yorkers take to two wheels, bike riders need to adopt a street code,” said Sadik-Khan. “A nice way to put it is that we all simply need to look out for one another. To put it a little more bluntly, don’t be a jerk. It’s a simple, direct message with a wink for bicyclists to follow the rules and help make our streets safer for everyone on them.”
The highly anticipated “Don’t Be a Jerk” ads, timed to the start of Bike Month, began airing this week on local television stations and will continue through June. The three spots, each starring a different celebrity, tackle serious, correctable bicycling behaviors, and ask all New Yorkers to ride responsibly. Over the past four years DOT has made a commitment to cyclists, adding over 250 new miles of bike lanes, better bike lane designs and thousands of new bike racks. The new campaign amplifies the agency’s ongoing efforts to educate and engage cyclists and encourage respectful riding.
In addition to the “Don’t Be a Jerk” ads, DOT launched its Bike Smart Pledge, an online campaign for bicyclists to register their commitment to safe cycling on their Facebook and Twitter pages. To expand its education and outreach efforts, DOT also works with other City agencies and elected officials to conduct Bike Smart presentations for communities. The agency also is helping the city’s growing number of bicyclists comply with requirements to ride with a bell or horn and use front and tail lights. As part of its “Ring in the Spring” program, DOT is distributing 1,500 bike bells purchased with money from federal grants along popular bike commuting routes. When Daylight Savings returns in the fall, DOT anticipates once again distributing free bike lights. The agency also continues to fit and distribute free bike helmets at events citywide. To date, the agency has outfitted more than 43,000 child and adult cyclists with helmets.