Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


A school is one of many ideal locations for a targeted enforcement campaign. - Dan Burden

Flickr - Wayan Vota Police enforcement can increase driver awareness of the need to share the roadway and reduce bicycle-related traffic crashes.
Flickr - Wayan Vota




Law Enforcement

Along with engineering and education approaches to improving bicyclist safety, enforcement of traffic laws can help create a safer riding environment, whether this enforcement is directed at the motorist or the bicyclist. With respect to motorists, efforts to reduce speeding and red light running, and to enforce proper yielding, passing, and overtaking maneuvers can make roadways safer places for bicyclists, as well as all users sharing the roadway. Law enforcement officers can also take advantage of the opportunity to stop and educate an offending bicyclist who is observed riding against traffic, weaving in and out of traffic, ignoring stop lights, or riding without proper lights at night.

Well-publicized enforcement campaigns, combined with strategically installed traffic control devices and public education programs, are often effective in deterring reckless driving and encouraging drivers to share the roadway with bicyclists. Most importantly, by enforcing the traffic code, police forces impart a sense of right and wrong in the general public and lend credibility to traffic safety educational programs and traffic control devices.

Over the years, police departments around the country have consistently enforced traffic laws pertaining to driving under the influence, speeding, and running red lights. However, enforcement of right-of-way laws (e.g. safe passing and failure to stop at traffic control devices) has proven more difficult; police forces have focused attention on more objective violations and/or have not provided appropriate training to police officers. Good enforcement requires enforcing traditional traffic laws as well as ensuring equal protection for drivers, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians.

There are a number of actions that municipalities can use to implement enforcement campaigns designed to protect bicyclists. These include increased police presence in areas with documented crashes and/or large bicycle volumes and high profile, hard-hitting mass media campaigns to communicate change and help set the public agenda.


Even though engineering countermeasures are implemented, the failure of motorists and bicyclists to adhere to traffic laws creates an unsafe environment. Police enforcement can increase driver awareness of the need to share the roadway and reduce bicycle-related traffic crashes.


  • Campaigns must be sensitive to the needs of different neighborhoods, age/ethnic groups, etc.
  • To avoid PR problems, police officers need to be trained properly beforehand.
  • Enforcement should be conducted with the help of staff support and awareness of the courts.
  • Enforcement operations should be focused on drivers rather than bicyclists.
  • Enforcement operations should begin with warnings and flyers before moving on to issuing citations for violations.

Estimated Cost

The cost can vary depending on the amount of training, number of officers involved, public relations work, duration of the program, and other factors.


To view references for this countermeasure group click here.

Case Studies

Seattle, Washington
Research Triangle Region, North Carolina