I remember my first Bike & Walk summit held at Rutgers University. I was invited to speak on pedestrian safety but quickly learned that most of the attendees were bike people.
It was then that I met Les Leatham and Cindy Steiner and a whole new world was opened for me. Les and I spoke for a long time on bike riding and bike safety techniques, many that sounded foreign and even dangerous to this non-cyclist. I was embarrassed as a traffic safety officer I was not aware of rules techniques like “taking a lane”. It was then that if I, as someone who was more “in the know” about traffic laws and was woefully ignorant, there were many of my brothers and sisters in law enforcement who were as well. Les’s idea to have a class on bike riding with an on-bike component strictly for police officers I felt was brilliant and I was determined to see this happen. So, through my grant, “Title 39: A Bike’s Eye View” was born.
The class was piloted in Essex County then in the next year went state-wide. It was approved by NHTSA as a “best practice” and in 2017, Les, Cindy and I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina and presented the program at the Lifesavers Conference. Lifesavers is the largest meeting of traffic safety professionals in the country. The conference was a huge success and a big feather in the cap for New Jersey bike safety. Bike classes for police officers helped establish a bond for safety between the police and the biking community. The officers who took the class realized quickly how vulnerable bike riders were and they were sensitive to cyclists and their right to share the road with cars. I myself have fallen in love with cycling and became an avid cyclist taking many bike safety courses to be better able to teach bike safety to others. Indeed, during the pandemic I logged over 1,700 miles in 2020.
We didn’t stop there, a partnership with AAA Foundation for Safety helped create a whole new brochure for the public on bike safety emphasizing the need to share the road entitled, Same Road, Same Rules, Same Rights!
Since then, I was a regular speaker at the annual Bike Summits and presented on many topics on how to form community safety committees, pedestrian safety and enforcement of pedestrian crosswalk safety.
I have represented the biking and pedestrian community in New Jersey on the Executive Committee for the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the Lifesavers Bicycle & Pedestrian Workshop Subcommittee and local and statewide Complete Streets Committees throughout New Jersey.
Recently I was tasked to lead the “Other Vulnerable Roadway Users” emphasis area for the 2020 New Jersey Strategic Highway Plan. A task I must sadly relinquish to another.
I leave New Jersey in a better place than it was when I started my law enforcement career in 1985 but knowing there is still lots of work still ahead of all of you and I am confident the safety of drivers, cyclist and pedestrians is in competent hands.
– Detective Arnold “Andy” Anderson (ret.)