Cone of silence?

The cone of silence can sometimes be super loud.

I have a little story for you. It goes like this:

Hey, maybe we could add some cones so folks could get to the supermarket on bikes during the pandemic? You know, sort of like how we added cones for the Tartan Trot right here on this old Cherokee Trail that connects our neighborhoods and business districts?

Seeing Is Believing from Pattie Baker on Vimeo.


We’re passing an ordinance that mostly takes effect when a motor vehicle driver injures or kills a bike rider (because most bike riders are not going to be lucky enough to survive such a thing unscathed).

Um, okay, well, that’s good (although you did include the part about them being able to get the charge waived if they take a little class), but how about cones so folks can get to the post office, you know, to mail homemade masks to their family members, or maybe even to ride to the park?


We’re passing an ordinance to say it’s okay to ride bikes on sidewalks, even though they’re too narrow to share with pedestrians (especially during social distancing) and this actually creates new problems without solving the original ones.

Um ok, well, I guess that’s good because no one should get a ticket for that act of self-preservation, but, you know, I was thinking, how about cones? That way folks could get takeout from local businesses while also getting some exercise and reducing stress? 


We’re using the limited resources of some of the most involved people in bike advocacy and creating an online class specifically for city employees so they understand the rules and challenges that bike riders face and how they as motor vehicle drivers can help keep them safer.

Um, ok, well, that’s good, I guess, and I’m glad to help provide stuff I’ve already created (see email below), if it’s helpful, but I was thinking — and I’m just spitballing here — but, um, maybe cones could be helpful? You know, so maybe families could ride bikes together like families in other self-proclaimed family-friendly cities all over the world are doing now thanks to Open Streets and additional safe-access-for-all? You know, to get an ice cream or something? Or, who knows, if they go back to school and work and don’t feel safe taking the bus or actually want to help reduce our usual bumper-to-bumper car traffic? 


Maybe red cups? Folks around the USA did that after yet another bike rider was killed not long ago. 



Um, ok, well, maybe toilet plungers then? That’s actually been a thing, too.


No, no, no.

No one is gonna take you seriously if you keep making these ridiculous suggestions. Don’t you understand that?

. . . Yes.

I hear you loud and clear.


Here is my email this morning to John Bennett, the Safety Education Programs Manager at Georgia Bikes, as referenced above (as a follow-up to a phone conversation yesterday, which was requested by a city councilor). The plan is to use what is developed for the City of Dunwoody in cities across Georgia and at corporations. 

Good morning, John. It was great talking with you yesterday about the class you are helping the City of Dunwoody develop for city employees who are drivers so they better understand the rules and challenges regarding bike riding, and the role motor vehicle drivers play in protecting lives in this still dangerous-by-design city during the biggest bike boom since the 1970s. I look forward to your email outlining specifics you may need with which I can help. As discussed, I can offer a $300 in-kind donation, which equals two hours of my time.

In anticipation of your email and knowing you have a meeting Friday morning with Joe Seconder (City Councilor), Bruce Hagen (Bike Law), Johann Weber (PCID Transportation), and Danny (I missed his last name — sorry) (City Staff Employee), I wanted to get a jump on letting you know what bike education content is already available. You are free to use my existing materials (with no alternations or excerpts) provided you include the industry-standard copyright line (copyright 2020 Pattie Baker). (FYI, I appreciate you and Joe including me, as 51% of the City of Dunwoody’s citizens are women. You may want to consider broadening the team to include more diversity as 35% of the City of Dunwoody’s citizens are nonwhite and a good number of folks have disabilities.)

I do a series of how-to videos that drop video into an existing donut. Here’s the one for avoiding right hooks. Here’s also how to do a Quick Stophow to change lanes (with a mention of Taking the Lane), using lights at night, and “feathering” brakes to slow down while going downhill/removing water from brake pads in the rain. I could do another one or two that address additional known dangers by simply dropping video I probably already have (or shooting it during my daily rides) into the existing donut, if you can identify what specifically you need. 

Additionally, here’s an infographic to show the Rock Dodge:

Blank 2000 x 2000-18
Also, Day 14 in my text-based class (also available via PDF and in person) summarizes the chart in the Georgia Bikes bike tips booklet that shows common incidences of crashes (both driver and bike rider faults). Below is the content for that page. Finally, I have more than 1300 photos in my Views from the Handlebars album on Flickr, showing a wide variety of infrastructure and situations (all taken from my GoPro, in a variety of metro Atlanta cities and elsewhere). Feel free to peruse, or I can help find specific photos as needed.
Please advise how my two hours can best help you. If you are able to access funding, I would be interested in discussing additional ways I can help.
Trust the journey,
Pattie Baker
Day 14: Hazard Avoidance
Let’s put your mind at ease right away. The majority of crashes are avoidable. About half are caused by bike rider error, and about half by driver error. We can eliminate bike rider errors. And we can anticipate common driver errors and take defensive action to reduce their chances.*
Let’s own our power:
1. Ride in the direction of motor vehicle traffic. Ride with lights (front and back, 500 lumen or more) in low-light or inclement weather. Use hand signals to change lanes when clear to do so. Follow all traffic rules. Pass people on trails on the left and use “audible signal” (ring a bell or say “on your left”).
2. “Take the lane” (which means ride in the middle of the lane) when: the road is too narrow for motor vehicle drivers to pass you safely (see Bonus Link below); there is debris or other dangers on the far right; passing parked cars (so you don’t get “doored”); and preparing to make a left.
3. Be aware that most crashes caused by motor vehicles occur at intersections. Watch out for drivers turning right (“right hooks”) and turning left across you (“left crosses”). Stay out of motor vehicle blind spots.
* Note: We cannot eliminate or anticipate all risks as there is little to nothing we can do to protect ourselves from impaired or distracted drivers or those who intend to harm us. 
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