The best way to prevent injury resulting from transportation clashes between vulnerable road users and large vehicles such as buses is through safety, education, and training. So, thanks to Dante Fichera of Steiner Ranch Cycling Club for organizing today’s training with the Leander ISD Transportation Department.
Dante being a concerned dad, bike rider, and pedestrian organized this event. He was able to get the school district to hear that they may need some training as Dante himself had a bad experience. So he took that experience to LISD and then organized a small group of folks to address his concerns that expanded to today’s event. As a result, APD Officer Rhiannon Cunningham and Lenore Shefman were invited to speak to 250 LISD employees to address safety concerns, as well as to discuss the ability of children before the age of 11 to understand abstract thinking and how that effects them in traffic settings. After all, the idea is to reduce potential harm and injury to all folks, especially children.
Today, officer Cunningham and Ms. Shefman met with the Leander ISD bus drivers and others who are charged with the duty of keeping children safe while transporting them to and from school each day.
Officer Cunningham spoke about existing laws and road safety as well as the tool APD purchased to measure the safe distance for passing vulnerable road users, such as people on bikes and pedestrians. The BSMART device was developed to determine whether vehicles are providing the required three feet of distance between small vehicles and vulnerable road users and the required six feet of distance between larger vehicles and pedestrians, motorcycle, and bicycle riders, among others. As Leander does not have a vulnerable road user ordinance like Austin, the discussion was more about what is reasonable and safe versus what the local ordinance maintains in terms of safe passing distances.
The audience was great and interactive and there was a healthy discussion relating to bike safety and interactions between riders and the buses driven by those in attendance.
Lenore’s talk focused on vulnerable road users, more specifically children. She focused on the development of their ability to comprehend abstract thinking and how that effects their safety out on the road.
There is no doubt that a lot of work needs to be done on educating folks on how to keep our communities safe from harm and other personal injuries that are preventable, not just in Austin but in our surrounding cities such as Leander. This was a great start and a new discussion has begun.
Later we’ll publish the video of the discussion. On a fun note, Officer Cunningham had a gentleman come up to her after the presentation and he was excited to tell her, he was one of her swim coaches when she was a youth. Amazing!