For many foreign seasonal workers on Cape Cod, their only mode of transportation to and from work, or anywhere else, is by bicycle. With more bikes than ever on Cape Cod roads and a steady increase in bicycle related accidents, Barnstable County has teamed up with the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) to make everyone on two wheels safer.
The Regional Bike Safety Education and Awareness Campaign is designed to achieve that goal through education and outreach, according to a Barnstable County release. "Barnstable County wants to promote the many benefits of bike riding," said Barnstable County Commissioner Sheila Lyons, "but we have a responsibility to educate motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists--residents and visitors alike about sharing the road safely."
Last fall, the county and CCRTA began working with MassBike and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a J-1 sponsor, to begin a safety campaign targeting seasonal foreign workers. Most of the more than 3,000 foreign workers on the Cape each summer are here on J-1 and H-2B visas.
As part of the safety campaign, organizers have reached out to Cape employers through the Cape's chambers of commerce to gauge the number of foreign workers on their staff, how many might be peddling to work and what if any bike policy the company may have.
Many of the workers are unfamiliar with our rules of the road and risk their safety when biking in busy areas, especially at night. Many do not have the proper safety equipment, including rear and front lights legally required to operate a bicycle at night.
Organizers have focused their efforts on informational materials including the creation of bike safety pamphlets in 10 languages, the Cape & Islands Summer Work Program Resource Guide and an educational video produced by MassBike (see below). The county has also worked with a vendor sponsor, Planet Bike, to purchase high-quality front and rear light sets.
The educational brochures and lights will be distributed by Cape police departments at community bike safety trainings and at beach parties for J1 workers sponsored by the Council of Churches. Beach parties are coming up on Thursday, June 19 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Rock Harbor in Orleans, Tuesday, June 24 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Oyster Pond in Chatham, Tuesday, June 24 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Outer Cape Christian Church in Truro and Wednesday, July 2 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Beach in Hyannis.
"Our police departments are worried about the lack of awareness around safety and the bike/motorist transportation law that has been recently updated," said Commissioner Lyons.
Nearly 2,000 bike sets have been ordered and 100 will be given to each of the Cape's police departments. Police officers on the night shift will have light sets in the cruiser to distribute to bicyclists without proper safety lights.
(MassBike produced video, Shifting Gears: Bicyclists and Public Safety April 2014 is a comprehensive review of Massachusetts biking laws. Important viewing for cyclists, drivers will benefit from watching the video too.)