Friday, July 8, 2011

Video: Bike Safety in Fairfax County

This week Fairfax County announced the release a bike safety video on their newswire feed (Video: Bike Safety in Fairfax County (July 5, 2011)). It's not a very instructive video; in fact some of it doesn't make any sense. We wish they had taken more time to edit the video and provide some detailed info on bike safety.

The video consists of a discussion by Officer Rex Pagerie, Fairfax Co Police Department with some background video of girls checking over and riding their bikes. See our commentary below the video:

While officer Pagerie provides some good info, parts of it don't make any sense. As he discusses various tips, the video shows unrelated random shots of girls looking over her bike. A shot of brakes being applied shows tires that are badly cracked. He should have discussed the ABC quick check and how to do it.

This is what officer Pagerie says about bike fit: "To get the proper seat height the balls of your feet should be touching. Once you're there you should be in good shape."

He goes on to say "We'll make sure your reflectors are on your bike. State code requires that, that you're visible from 500 feet in front from dawn to dusk, and if you're riding on roadway that's 35 mph or over you have to have a red light on the back of your bike." He neglected to say that you're always required to have a front headlight if riding after dark.

"We know 80% of accidents are head injuries related to bike accidents." Not sure what this means.

"Riders are required to ride on the far side of the roadway." There's no mention of Virginia law that includes all the exceptions to riding "as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway."

Then there's this statement that makes no sense: "They can ride two riders abreast but if a vehicle comes up to overtake them they have to go single file. There's no restrictions on the speed. It would be impossible to keep up with a 35 mile per hour car or faster."

"Riders have to ride with traffic" showing two girls riding on the sidewalk.

"A lot of times you'll see younger riders or kids riding against traffic. Some parents may think that that's an appropriate way to ride so they can see the car coming; it's actually against the code. We prefer that you would ride with traffic and wear something reflective if you're going to ride at night or in the evening hours." Instead of saying that it's against the code he could have explained the many reasons it's dangerous to ride against traffic: Motorists aren't expecting oncoming traffic in their lane, they have less time to react, and the effects of an impact are much greater when both vehicles are riding in opposite directions vs. the same direction.

We think it's time to go back to the editing room and do the film right.

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Well thanks - I learned something from your post. Does FABB or someone have a quick ref of VA law. Seems like every conversation about what the law is - is filled with errors. Would be nice to have some authority somewhere.

And agreement. There seems to be quite a bit of well meaning "bike safety" efforts by governments and police lately - that keeps missing the point or is incorrect. It would be nice is the govt would consult with the bike organizations.
Bruce :
We had officer Pagerie speak at Boy Scout Bike events on several occasions and he provided a professional and engaging discussion with the troops about bicycle safety and bicycle maintenance. He is a certified bicycle mechanic and I think he told us he has been a police officer for over 16 years and a bicycle officer for nearly seven. I don’t think you are being entirely fair with your article / post.
Did you ever consider that the county production crew has edited and re-edited the interview with Officer Pagerie to squeeze it into a very short segment. Clearly you do not understand video production and how much of what is actually filmed ends up cut and on the production floor so to speak.
You can tell that most of the interview was patched together in segments and much of the content may have been lost. I agree that more detail could have been covered but having a media background; I can tell you it is very hard to fit everything into a small window of play time.
Many of the topics that you have talked about most likely wear covered but cut out by the production crew. In addition, many times these types of interviews are done impromptu giving the interviewee little or no time to prepare. How would you fair if you were pulled to speak in public or on film in this case at the spur of the moment? It is clear that this was simply a short segment to provide folks with some basic safety tips and keep a helmet on your kid. Settle down - it’s not the tour de France out there.
Dear Anonymous,

I'm glad Officer Pagerie has helped out with your events. I'm sure he's very knowledgeable about all things bicycling. However, the video is very poorly produced. It's not Officer Pagerie's fault that statements he made could have been taken out of context and in the video they don't make sense. If that's the case, they should not have been included in the video. Someone should have done a final review and determined that it wasn't ready to be released.

I contacted the police and relayed the comments I made in the blog. I was told it would be reviewed and I haven't heard anything since. In the meantime, the video is prominently displayed on the bike crash site:

I'll stick with my original comment that the police should go back to the editing room and do it right, and they should take down the video.

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