Cycling Advocacy & Education Articles by Fred Oswald

Fred Oswald is a mechanical engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center.  Fred is also an experienced bicycle commuter, cycling safety instructor, director of the Ohio Bicycle Federation and a leader of LAB Reform, which is trying to return the "Bikeleague" to members' control.

About the author:  The Making of a Vehicular Cyclist.

Photo of author

Ohio bicycle traffic law was significantly improved by House Bill 389, the "Better Ohio Bicycling Bill" of 2006.  You can read the bill as passed by the 126th Ohio General Assembly at  You can also access the entire "Rules of the Road" (Chapter 4511 of the Ohio Revised Code) at

Further improvements in bicycle driving laws are needed.  The Ohio Bicycle Federation has a a new package of proposals for the 2011-12 session.  Once this is introduced, we will need letters of support.

In another OBF project, we are working on a booklet for police: Ohio Law Officers Pocket Guide to Bicycling Law Enforcement.  If you print this 2-sided, fold and staple together, you will have a 16-page booklet on 4 sheets of paper.  Specify "Landscape mode" when printing.

*** Cycling Education ***

Bicycle Driving Seminar This program shows why the best way to operate a bicycle is to drive it as the vehicle that it is.  Available as ~3.6 Mb Powerpoint file or compact 3 slides per page, 1 Mb, pdf file).

Tips for Bicycle Operation (pdf file, 500 Kb).  A 1/2 page, 2-sided illustrated flyer that gives basics of riding in traffic and links for more information. This makes a good handout.

Ten Tips for Safe & Enjoyable Bicycle Commuting.  A short illustrated article.

Winter Bike Commuting.  An illustrated article

Let's Stop Miseducating Society About Cycling.  Much of what we were taught as kids is wrong and some is dangerous.  This article explains why and how this happened and what to do to correct the problem.

'Cycling Shorts' -- Short Bicycling Education Messages.  This article has several short messages intended for newspapers, news releases, etc. to combat the widespread ignorance of proper bicycle operation.  Some are intended for cyclists, others for parents or for motorists who share the road with cyclists.

Digest of Ohio Bicycle Traffic Laws.  An annotated summary of Ohio traffic laws important for bicycle drivers.

1/2 page summary of Ohio Traffic Laws for bicycle drivers.  rev 6/08. Print this out, laminate in "Contact" plastic and carry on your bike.

Why Cyclists Should Stay Out of the Gutter, Illustrated article showing why you should be assertive about your safety.

Passing Thoughts -- Bikes and Cars Sharing the Road, Illustrated article covering lane position and illusions about delaying traffic.

Armadillos and Cyclists, how instinct and intuition can lead us wrong.

Making Vehicle Detectors Work.  Illustrated article that shows how to trigger a detector loop from your bike.  Article shows how NASA Glenn Research Center marked their vehicle detectors to help cyclists use them.

Background info. for the media.  Issues relating to bicycle safety & operation.

Excellent Cycling Education Videos

These are from Commute Orlando and Cycling Savvy in Florida.  Here's just a few articles & videos.

*** Education for Parents & Kids ***

Teaching Cycling to Children.  A compilation of ideas and resources for teaching children (and their parents) good cycling techniques.

'Kids-1' program for Parents.  Covers: teaching riding skills, bike & helmet fit, transition from the tricycle, preventing accidents, avoiding mistakes.  Available as ~2 Mb Powerpoint file or compact 3 slides per page, 1 Mb, pdf file) for viewing on-screen.

Bike Safety for Kids - A Parent's Guide Illustrated 2-sides of 1-sheet flyer (pdf file, 91 Kb).  This is good for a handout.

*** Cycling Advocacy ***

Reforming Bicycle Traffic Laws, including Model Laws.
A small committee is working on rating state laws against this standard.  As we rate the states, we will need help from cyclists in each state.

Cycling Law & Safety Issues (3 slides per page, 750 Kb, pdf file).  A presentation given to local governments showing need for reforms of bicycle ordinances.  This is a slightly modified version of the Bicycle Driving Seminar above.  This was shown to the Brook Park, Ohio Council in Jan., 2003.  On March 18 of that year, they passed a major overhaul of their cycling ordinances that formed the template for Ohio bicycle traffic law reforms passed in 2006 The full ~2.6 Mb Powerpoint file is also available.

Guidelines for a 'Cyclist Friendly City'.  Here is what a community should emphasize to encourage cycling and improve safety:  teaching citizens the best practices, improving laws, training police, fixing hazards and really welcoming cyclists as fully equal users of the roads.  See the Ohio Bicycle Federation Cyclist Friendly Communities Program information below.

Improving the Cycling Environment.  A new illustrated article about fixing road defects to eliminate hazards for cyclists.  My community fixed dangerous road cracks the next day after I provided photos of some bad spots.

Getting Vehicle Detectors to Detect Bicycles.  Give a copy of this two page illustrated article to your local officials (service or safety director) to provide information for proper adjustment of sensors that control "demand actuated" traffic lights.

Drivers' License Test Questions Relating to Cycling.  To improve the woefully low level of public knowledge about cycling (bicycle operation, legal and safety issues), this article proposes adding carefully-written questions to motor vehicle operator license exams.  The questions were deliberately written to invoke common misconceptions about these issues.  The goal is to inspire motorists' training materials and driver's education classes to adapt to the questions by combating misinformation.

Berea's Bicycle Blunders.  Here is what happens when people try to be "Bicycle Friendly" without understanding proper bicycle operation practices.  This NE Ohio city made several serious blunders when they installed bike lanes on Front Street.  We can learn from their mistakes.

The April Fool Bike Lanes.  Here is another sad story of city officials trying to "do something for bicycles" but without bothering to learn how to do it properly.

*** Bike Law Reform ***

Reforming local bicycle traffic ordinances in NE Ohio The author started this project as a critique of bad rules in =a few communities. It now has ratings for 75 NE Ohio communities ranging from one "A" (plus several A minuses) to (unfortunately) 14 that get an "F minus" for some really bad rules that violate Ohio Law.

Model local laws -- for communities in Ohio. These are consistent with the Ohio Revised Code and more important, consistent with safe practices.

Legal Defense of Cyclists. Ideas to prevent and defend against police harassment of cyclists.  Includes an illustration of a "substandard width lane".

Bicycle "Right to the Road" Law Cases, Cyclists victimized by the American Justice System.

*** LAB Reform ***

LAB Reform, a Web site to reform LAB, return control to members and restore traditional cycling values.
A faction of "bicycle advocates" appointed to the board has taken control of LAB away from the members.  The faction allows elements of the bicycle industry, bicycle planners and other special interests to run LAB for their own benefit, to the detriment of the cyclists who own the League.  LAB has become a lobbying and fundraising organization that shows more loyalty to coalition partners than to the membership.  The site includes articles on the following.

*** Ohio Bicycle Federation projects ***

OBF Cyclist Friendly Communities Program.

This program encourages communities to treat cyclists fairly, teach the best practices of bicycle driving, and encourage cycling for transportation, health, recreation and sport.  Included is a "Toolkit" of resources to guide communities in their program that includes: The Ohio Bicycle Federation offers an award for communities that meet the criteria.  Vandalia and NASA Glenn Research Center are the first communities to earn the award.  See How They Qualified.

Flyer describing CFC Award (one sheet, 2-sides, fold to make booklet)

Bicycle Transportation Policy Statement.
(pdf file).  This was adopted by the Ohio Bicycle Federation, Jan 2003.  It includes ideas that should be useful to cycling advocates everywhere.

Article on Improving Cycling Laws.
This was offered to Thunderhead Alliance for their advocacy web pages.

Bicycle Safety Cards or Hang Tags.
Includes an adult version and a different one for parents of young children.  Powerpoint file produces 2, 2-sided pages.  Print these on light cardboard & cut apart to make 6 tags per sheet.  Hole punch & add string to hang from bikes and give to cooperating bike shops (or give them a master copy if they will print their own).  The same tags, without hole punch and string can make safety cards that you can hand out at events.  Some bike shops prefer the cards without string so they can just add them to a bag of info given to the customer.  Note: margins are tight.  Works best on a laser printer.

The Ohio Bicycle Fed. has a simpler version in a pdf file (no OBF logo & smaller print area so it works with inkjet printer.)  See

*** Other Cycling Education & Advocacy Files by Fred Oswald ***

Crankmail Advocacy Section.

Crankmail is a newsletter for cycling clubs in the NE Ohio area.  The website is being revised -- many links there do not work.  Many of these articles have been moved to and to the ediucation section.

Non-uniform and Dangerous Local Laws that restrict cycling, This page includes specific information about a few good and many bad laws in 75 N.E. Ohio communities.  This could be useful as a model for advocates from other areas.

Model Local Laws. A model package of local bicycle ordinances, consistent with Ohio traffic law.

Writing to City Hall to ask them to change lawsThis is a sample letter to a local community with terrible bike laws.

Cycling Knowledge Test, (pdf file, 17 Kb). A test for cycling traffic violators (including motorists that harass or endanger cyclists), based on the Effective Cycling video.  This also makes a good training tool for public officials.

Articles on Ohio Bicycle Federation web site

Teaching Cycling to Children A compilation of ideas and resources for teaching children (and their parents) good cycling techniques.

Bicycle Safety Cards or Hang Tags (pdf file).  You can use these as small safety handouts or as hang tags.  Adult cyclist version and one for parents of young children.

Digest of Ohio Bicycle Traffic Laws. An annotated summary of Ohio traffic laws important for bicycle drivers.

Improving Ohio & Local Cycling Laws by the Ohio Bicycle Federation. Describes several approaches for law reform.

Articles for commuters on Lake Erie Wheelers web site

Bicycle Commuter's Guide, Tips & Techniques(6 pg. pdf file, ~275 Kb).

Bicycle Commuter Issues, The Politics of Two Wheels, (6 pg. pdf file, ~275 Kb).

© Copyright 2004-2012 Fred Oswald.
Material may be copied with attribution.
The author is a certified bicycling safety instructor and a professional engineer in Ohio.
For comments, questions, contact
Last Revised 6/18/12  Check for updates at

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