Below is the "Equal Rights for Cyclists" campaign letter, developed by Lauren Cooper of CycleMedia. The purpose of the letter is to explain to motorists (and to cyclists) how they should drive in order to make the road a safe place for everyone. The language has been carefully crafted and tested with cyclists and drivers. When sent in a mass media campaign in an area, the letter typically has a 95% acceptance rating by drivers who read it.
Lauren's original letter had over a 50% acceptance rating by motorists, but by honing the language and the presentation, she has been able to improve the acceptance rate to the current 95%.
Lauren suggests that you use the letter in it's entirety, without changing any of the language or wording. Particularly important is to leave in both the section addressed to drivers and the section addressed to cyclists. Part of the beauty of the letter--and the reason it receives such high acceptance among drivers--is that it shows that drivers and cyclists can get along on the road if both do their part
Lauren allows you to use the letter as you wish, as long as you acknowledge her as the author (Lauren Cooper, Cyclemedia).
The letter below has been customized for use in Missouri (simply by changing the references to indicate the specific sections of Missouri law referred to). You are welcome to copy and paste the letter from this page into a word processor and use it as needed (again, be sure to acknowledge Lauren Cooper, Cyclemedia).
The message is formatted so that it can be pasted directly into an email message.
Dear Driver: Please Share The Road
Over 40 million Americans bicycle safely on our shared public roads. But many
more are afraid to do so because drivers sometimes squeeze past them. Though
drivers rarely intend harm, squeezing past is frightening and dangerous, and
has illegally scared millions of cyclists off public roads. Please
understand: not everyone may drive a car, but every person does have a
fundamental civil right to travel, in safety, on public roads.
Almost everyone has forgotten that when there isn't space for safe passing,
then bicyclists are to use the entire vehicle lane. Overtaking drivers must
pass safely; squeezing past is simply unsafe. Please note that this is, and
has always been, common sense and standard traffic law: *Drivers shall pass
at a safe distance.*
*Every person riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights and all of the
duties applicable to other drivers.*
(Missouri Revised Statutes 307.188)
If bicyclists squeeze over to the right, they endanger themselves. They end
up squeezing between hazards, sliding on sand or debris, or colliding with
parked car doors. That is why, bikelane or not, in most states the ride-right
rule for bicyclists has always been: *ride to the right *EXCEPT* when passing
or turning left; or to avoid objects, parked cars, moving vehicles,
pedestrians, animals, surface or other hazards; or when in a vehicle lane too
narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within
Safe bicyclists must politely *merge* left and ride nearer the center of a
vehicle lane, instead of squeezing next to hazards -- just as any safe driver
would do. Some may think this unsafe: but please note that there is only one
general rule in the law for safe bicycling, and it instructs that safe
bicyclists behave the same as safe drivers:
*Every person riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights, and all of the
duties, applicable to other drivers.*
While this may briefly slow others, all drivers slow those behind many times
every day; when making turns, parking, and more. So please don't squeeze
past. Bikelane, crosswalk, or not, squeezing past anyone is illegal and
dangerous, no matter where they are on the road.
For cyclists, safety depends on how you ride, not where. Millions enjoy
bicycling in traffic throughout their lives without collision or trouble.
Cooperative Cyclists have taught themselves to politely cooperate with other
drivers by using all the rules of the road: not only to signal, but to
politely merge, yield, change lanes, use lights at night -- all the rules.
Such cyclists enjoy traffic and are rarely squeezed past. And studies show
that they are far safer -- some as safe as drivers overall (Bicycle Drivers
Manual at www.cyclemedia.org ).
Sadly, police and prosecutors don't always protect cyclists and their right
to safe travel. All cyclists are often blamed because some cyclists break
rules. Please remember that our traffic laws apply only to individuals; and
protect even those who have previously broken laws. Please use traffic laws
to protect the public: most especially, from cyclists who ride recklessly
through traffic or without lights at night; and from motorists who drive
recklessly, harass, threaten, or squeeze dangerously close to cyclists or
Please be aware that public roads were not built just for cars: before the
car, roads in the USA were already being paved for cyclists. Every cyclist,
young or old, without exception, has a fundamental civil right to travel on
public roads -- in safety, and protected by the law.
Please remember that every State Drivers' Manual recommends that safe
practice for motorists includes:
*Adjust speed for pedestrians, bicyclists, slow-moving vehicles, blind
curves, and hills.
These conditions make the posted speed limit unsafe. By law, you must drive
It is the overtaking drivers responsibility to adjust their driving to assure
everyone's safety.* (Missouri Revised Statutes 304.012)
Thank you for your thought and consideration.
Ms. Lauren Cooper, Professional Bicycle Commuter
Chief J.W. Rittenhouse, Retired Chief of Police
Equal Rights for Cyclists Campaign email@example.com