“Sustainable Transportation teaches students there is another cadence to roadway design, speed, and transportation network mentality.”
Jason Jackman has been riding his bike around Tampa for over 20 years. “Growing up around Northdale and Carrollwood, my brother and I would ride our bikes everywhere. Movies, grandma’s apartment, 7-Eleven for Slurpees and Big-League Chew…” Jackman said. But even in the late-nineties, Jackman and his brother new the safety repercussions of leaving their neighborhood street: faster-moving vehicles and lack of sidewalks forced the duo to travel by backroads and parking lots.
Now, a few years later with children of his own, Jackman is a researcher at the Center for Urban Transportation Research. Applying his education and first-hand-experience, Jackman works on bicycle and pedestrian safety programs and teaches the University of South Florida’s Sustainable Transportation course.
The 3-credit-hour graduate course offered through the College of Engineering teaches students the importance of “Complete Streets” and equity. While these concepts are taught in other classes, this course applies the coursework and hands-on training to the students’ final projects: retrofitting a local corridor for sustainable options. “This class may [be a student’s] first introduction to learning about vulnerable road users, planning, and Transportation Demand Management,” said Jackman. “States, cities, and counties are beginning to see the benefits [of] creating a more sustainable transportation system for all road users including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers.”
With over 35,000 people killed in motor vehicle crashes each year in the United States, more cities are implementing car-free streets and adapting more pedestrian-friendly models. In early February 2020, San Francisco implemented a car-free zone on its busy Market Street, freeing over 650 cyclists per hour (at peak) to ride car-free. In 2019, New York City banned cars from its 14th Street, and the change was ruled a “phenomenal success” for its bus system. Even cities in Europe are cutting down on their reliance on gas-powered vehicles.
In early February 2020, Jackman and Program Support and Outreach Specialist Brentin Mosher (both certified cycling instructors with the League of American Bicyclists) led over twenty students on a campus bicycle ride and safety skills course. Students learned bicycle safety and experienced roadway design and its effects on bicyclists and other road users. For many students, the course illustrated that bicycling is a viable form of transportation for errands and local trips. “I always thought cycling wasn’t a safe mode of transport,” said student Madhu Mahesh Gowda, “but this class encouraged me to ride bicycles in the future as it is more economical and eco-friendlier.” For others, it was a great refresher. “During the skills class, I felt myself gain confidence while doing some of the maneuvers,” said graduate MURP student Alexis Boback
To those that want to adopt more bicycling into their commutes and lifestyles, Jackman offers the following tips:
First, plan your route – slower speed streets are recommended as you begin your experience riding with traffic!
Second, complete an ABC Quick Check and familiarize yourself with other safety-related precautions/preparations (see below). Safety is the #1 priority.
Third, try commuting by bike for an entire week. You’ll find you have a new confidence in your new travel mode and possibly continue to use that travel mode!
ABC Quick (Air, Brakes, Chain/Crank, Quick Release) Check
Make sure your bicycle is in working order before riding by checking the air in your tires, any brakes on your bicycle, the chain and crank, and the quick release. Around 49% of bicyclist injuries are due to the bicyclist’s own fault – broken bicycle parts, falls, and hazards in the road. Something as simple as checking your quick release on your wheel can save yourself from a serious injury!
Understand the rules of the road. Bicyclists follow the same rules and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. Bicycles are considered legal vehicles.
Be sure to have bicycle lights on at night. A front white light and a red light on the rear – it’s the law! Cycling at night without lights is responsible for 22-27% of crashes.
Wear a bicycle helmet. In the event of a crash, there is at least some protection for your head that could possibly save your life!
If you live close enough to school or work, give riding a bike a chance! Be safe, and have fun! See you on the roads!