In an effort to connect with adolescent and teen cyclists around town, the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department created a line of comic books that show the graphically dangerous side of not practicing proper bike safety.
The six-episode series and their accompanying posters, funded in part through a grant from the Arizona Governors Office of Highway Safety, are now available through the department's office and will get a greater distribution through local schools in the fall.
The various episodes cover getting doored, avoiding blind spots, and obeying signs and signals. With the recent string of cycling injuries and deaths on Valley roads, this series comes at a time when the greater cycling community is chafing for more safety awareness among both drivers and cyclists.
"Crash data over several years indicated that boys in the 12-17 year age range made up a disproportionate percentage of bicyclists involved in crashes," said Kerry Wilcoxon, traffic engineer for the City of Phoenix. "This project is a tool we use to communicate to an at risk population that may otherwise not get the messages."
"We are trying to save lives."
The series was written by Joseph Perez, traffic safety and bicycle coordinator for the City of Phoenix, and illustrated by Rob Osborne, author of 1,000 Steps to World Domination. Both create a driver's-ed level of graphic consequence to not practicing safe cycling.
"Riding bikes in traffic, especially when you do stupid things, can be dangerous and the consequences of bad decisions can be fatal so we wanted something that would grab and keep the kids attention," said Wilcoxon. "There were and are concerns about going too far but there are also concerns that we are not going far enough."
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With just a limited release so far, Wilcoxon says that the initial response has been very positive from kids, but with some reservations from parents.
"The feedback from schools and parents has been mixed for the reasons we mentioned above but we don't want to back off of the message or the delivery method."
To get the comics and posters for a school or youth bike program, contact Wilcoxon (602-262-4613 or email@example.com) or Perez (602-534-9529 or firstname.lastname@example.org) with the City of Phoenix.