Since 2001 the Chicago DOT has helped fund the Bicycle Ambassadors program which includes a squad of cyclists who educate the public on traffic safety and encourage biking, walking, and transit. We have supported the outreach efforts of the Ambassadors for many years, and for 2018 we partnered with them by providing lights, racks, fenders, and other accessories.
In 2017 Chicago developed a Vision Zero initiative to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries from traffic crashes by 2026. This season the Ambassadors focused on this initiative to deliver public outreach to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to make progress on this goal.
This summer was a successful and busy time for the Ambassadors and they have several fantastic programs that allow them to attend and lead over 350 events across the city of Chicago.
The Junior Ambassador program is a 6 week summer mentorship outreach program in which 15 teenagers are hired and trained to provide walking and biking workshops to Chicago Park District Day camps. The only peer-to-peer bicycle and pedestrian safety program in the nation, the Junior Ambassadors were able to educate over 22,000 kids this summer.
Many adults do not know how to ride a bike and the Ambassadors offered free Learn to Ride classes two times a month at three Chicago locations. This summer they were able to get 102 new adult riders up and riding using Divvy bikes. Divvy is the city’s bike share program which was launched in 2013 and now offers over 6000 bikes across the Chicago area.
Another aspect of the Ambassador program is analyzing crash data to find problematic intersections and locations and work with the Chicago Police District to provide safety information to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Common illegal behaviors identified in these education events are failure to yield, dooring, parking in the bike lane, and biking on sidewalks.
With the summer programs wrapped up, the Ambassadors are still hard at work visiting schools and teaching transportation skill workshops. We are proud to support the good work of the Chicago Bicycle Ambassadors in their outreach efforts to educate people on transportation safety.