610 Stompers to spread word about bike safety in New Orleans

Dancers urge drivers to watch for cyclists

“Checking behind you and being aware of cyclists on the road is such an easy thing to do. But it’s a problem many drivers just don’t think about.” Dan Jatres,   Regional Planning Commission

The 610 Stompers will return to the billboards, streets around the city and even the Internet for the second round of a pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign from the Regional Planning Commission.

The all-male dance troupe, whose slogan is “ordinary men, extraordinary moves,” was featured in a previous campaign that ran last fall. That series of ads focused primarily on pedestrian safety. The newest campaign will now aim to make drivers more aware of cyclists in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

The need for drivers to keep an eye out for cyclists is only becoming more pressing as the area sees an increase in the miles of bicycle lanes along local roads.

“The New Orleans region has committed to becoming more bike-friendly,” said Dan Jatres of the Regional Planning Commission. “We now have more than 150 miles of bikeways across the region, with more opening throughout 2013 and 2014. Cycling, for transportation and recreation, is only going to increase.”

This advertising campaign will highlight laws meant to protect cyclists that many people might not realize exist.

One law, for example, is known as the “3-foot law,” and requires that motorists keep at least 3 feet between a vehicle and a cyclist.

Also a focus: “dooring.” That is a crash between a cyclist and a car door, something that Jatres said can end in serious injuries or even death for a cyclist.

“Checking behind you and being aware of cyclists on the road is such an easy thing to do,” Jatres said. “But it’s a problem many drivers just don’t think about.”

The campaign will not only focus on drivers but also will target those on two wheels.

Cyclists will be reminded that it is the law to ride with traffic, not against it.

The RPC said many cyclists in New Orleans are aware of that law but still ride against traffic in an effort to shorten travel times in areas where one-way streets a common.

But that practice puts cyclists at up to four times greater risk of a crash since a driver does not have enough time to react to an oncoming cyclist in his or her path, according to the RPC.

The 610 Stompers will be featured in the ads wearing their shiny red jackets, blue short shorts, white headbands and high socks on billboards, banners, posters and at bus shelters around the area.

Those more traditional ads will appear in addition to less traditional ads placed in gasoline stations, for example.

The advertising campaign also will include videos that will run locally before YouTube and Hulu videos, while interactive ads will appear on local news websites.

The campaign will begin in the middle of the month and continue through June.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in testing his or her bicycle safety knowledge can do so at www.watchoutnola.com.