Grab your helmets and check your tire pressure! And don’t forget the noodles! What, noodles, you say?
Walter Koch uses the noodle as a teaching tool. The cycling enthusiast has been there for the close calls along city streets, especially in downtown San Antonio where vehicles, pedestrians and bike riders mix it up every day. Koch says he tries to turn bike rides into an educational experience for motorists who may not know all the rules of the road when it comes to accommodating bicycles within the traffic flow, including the 3 Feet Rule, which doesn’t get any more visible than when it hangs off a bike seat: an electric yellow pool noodle, re-purposed as a safety tool, moving and swaying in cadence with the cyclist’s pedaling rhythm. Vision Zero SA's Jessica Brunson talked with Koch on the eve of his “Noodle Ride," happening November 16th at 10:00 a.m. along S. Flores Street in downtown San Antonio.
Why a Give 3 Feet Campaign?
“I felt there was no voice for voice for bikes. After two deaths, seeing my friends’ reaction to them, and how they effected the community I had to do something. There were no active campaigns. Where the doctor was hit there had been 44 incidents before it, and more (crashes) that have left my friends devastated.”
How does your campaign compare to others nationwide?
“We are personal. Every person is someone that is here, that is us. This campaign is about people and acknowledging that we are worth the same as someone who is behind the wheel of a car.”
Who is involved in Give 3 Feet in San Antonio?
“It is a family affair. We are in bike stores from San Antonio to Lawton, Oklahoma. Locally we are in Hub Mrkt/Small Planet e-bikes, James Arthur, Crossroads Bikes on Huebner, Tour De Cure, Earn-a-bike, and participate with numerous other cycling events and organizational supporters.
Where do you see Give 3 Feet going?
“The challenge is to get into schools and impact students. Educating them on the Give 3 Feet campaign can hopefully change the culture and create future cycling advocates. It is a dream to spearhead a movement that gets lawmakers behind tougher laws for those who hit a cyclist. It is horrible to know that right now, there are no strong penalties for crashing into and killing someone on a bike.”
How do you approach inattentive drivers?
“Everyone remembers their first bike ride. All you have to do is ask someone to remember that first bike ride. Seeing them think about those thoughts and remembering how they used to ride and enjoy that freedom gives an opening to have a conversation about bike and motorist safety.”
Jessica Brunson is an avid cyclist who can be caught biking to and from work along downtown San Antonio’s bike lanes. Brunson champions all modes of transportation, and she uses her skills as a Senior Transportation Planner for the city’s Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI).