Share and Be Aware

No matter if you prefer to get around on foot, by bicycle or behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, we all need attractive, convenient and safe facilities.   Wisconsin now has a Complete Streets law, so as our roads are reconstructed they are being engineered to accommodate people on foot and on bike, but even after every street is a complete street, people will still need to follow the rules of the road and be aware of others.

Even the most complete street will not be safe if motorists speed, pedestrians dash into the road from between parked cars and bicyclists run red lights. To address those safety issues we need good education programs so everyone knows their rights and responsibilities,  enforcement for those who break the law and efforts to encourage people to be considerate of other road users.  To address those other important “Es,” in this spring the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin has teamed with the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety to launch a “Share and Be Aware” program.

Using a combination of traditional marketing techniques like billboards and public service announcements, as well as in-person appearances by Share and Be Aware Ambassadors, the program is attempting to reach all road users with positive safety messages that emphasize rights as well as responsibilities. After only a few short months, we have already made quite an impression.  Our billboards and radio PSAs have been seen or heard by more than 600,000 people in cities across the state.  LaCrosse and Eau Claire have been very actively promoting the Share and Be Aware messages. Let us know via the comments below if you have seen one of the signs or heard a PSA. The new billboard below, sponsored by Wheel and Sprocket, will be going up in the Milwaukee area soon.

You can view videos of the public service announcements on the Bike Fed YouTube Channel by clicking here.  The radio spots are basically just the sound from the videos.  Below is a sample.  Watch the video and then play it again with your eyes closed to imagine it as a radio PSA.

Finally, let us know if you have seen one of our Share and Be Aware Ambassadors at one of the great summer events in your area of Wisconsin.  Share and Be Aware Ambassadors not only go to large public events, they can also come to your workplace to give targeted presentations and help with rides.  Below is a list of our Ambassadors and the cities in which they are based:

Matthew Andrews, Eau Claire

Barbara Connolly-Blick, Milwaukee

Carolyn Dvorak, La Crosse

Scott Reilly, Appleton

Justin Sonnentag, Stevens Point

Brian Turany, Madison

To request that a Share and Be Aware Ambassador come to your workplace, school, church or event, fill out this form or email matt.gissbl (at)


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in laws, Rules of the Road and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Share and Be Aware

  1. Alan Selk says:

    I’m not against education, but it seems more like a desperate act to cover up the deficiencies in bike infrastructure then anything that would make life better for bike users in any appreciable way. It will do little to nothing to actually increase bike use.

    Infrastructure is the key to both bike safety and increasing bike use. The complete streets document you linked to is flat out against protected cycle tracks. It makes the mistake of thinking you can place a bike lane on a high volume arterial street and expect folks to use it to any great degree. The document is deeply flawed. That is much more the heart of the problem rather then education.

    • daveschlabowske says:

      While I always say “Engineering first,” I have to disagree about the importance of the other Es. I am a HUGE believer in the power of protected bikeways to attract more riders and correspondingly decrease crash rates. I am also a realist and understand that we can’t build separated facilities everywhere, and we shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t need a pedestrian bridge over every road to get motorists to yield to people in a crosswalk for instance. In the six years that I was the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Milwaukee, we added many curb extensions, painted crosswalks, median refuge islands, speed humps, in street yield to peds signs, and on and on. Despite all that engineering, we still have pitiful motorist yield compliance rates for pedestrians at crosswalks.

      If infrastructure is all we need, why does the pedestrian in Milwaukee stand on the curb extension, in front of a painted crosswalk, with a sign on the centerline that says “State Law Yield to Pedestrians in a Crosswalk” and wait until the street is completely clear of cars before attempting to cross the street when the pedestrian in Portland puts one foot off the normal curb, in an unmarked crosswalk and starts moving across the street? Milwaukee arguably has the safer infrastructure in this scenario, but the pedestrian in Portland gets across the street first. The reasons have to do with the other Es. First, because both the pedestrian and the motorists in Milwaukee are poorly educated about their rights and responsibilities, second because the pedestrian has little faith that his right to cross the street are being enforced, and third, because we culturally do not chastise our fellow citizens when they fail to comply with the law.

      I remember the first time I visited a friend from Milwaukee who had moved to Seattle about 20 years ago. I was driving a rental car with him in the passenger seat as we went past Green Lake, when he screamed “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Shaken, I looked around and said “what?” He responded “That guy back there was waiting to cross the street. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO STOP!” While I had been driving for about 15 years at the time, this was the first time anyone had ever hollered at me for not yielding to a pedestrian. Lack of education, enforcement and encouragement are the reason pedestrians have a hard time crossing the street and die at a higher rate than other road users. We have WAY better pedestrian networks in Milwaukee than they do in Seattle. Heck, half the streets in Seattle don’t even have sidewalks, let alone ADA compliant curb ramps. 98% of the streets in Milwaukee have 5 ft wide or wider sidewalks and we have updated ramps at every corner.

      So while we agree, infrastructure first and foremost, I have to respectfully disagree with you about the importance of the other Es.

  2. Todd Jensen says:

    Tri Faster (Lauren and Todd Jensen) is also helping to raise funds for more billboards in addition to the support provided by Wheel & Sprocket. We are matching the first $1000 in individual donations targeted for the billboards. Anyone is welcome to donate directly to the Bike Fed of WI for this via their webpage at

    • daveschlabowske says:

      AWESOME!! Sorry I did not mention that. I’m still new at the Bike Fed and don’t quite know about all the irons in all the fires. Please keep me informed of the work you are doing. I will eventually have my fingers on all the pulses, but until then I can use any help I can get.

  3. Ralph says:

    Great Piece Dave!
    I’d love to see a Share and Be Aware Ambassador at an event way up here in Marinette. Haven’t yet, but Marinette has so few big events…. BTW, I believe education is key, but only goes so far. Police MUST enforce the laws on the books. And I know budgets are stretched thin and local law enforcement cannot sit on every corner, but when an officer sees a car zip through an intersection with people in both crosswalks, should they not pull the driver over?

    I’d bet if local law agencies set aside one day a month and had a car randomly sitting at intersections, they’d write enough tickets to more than pay for the officers time sitting there. I defy anyone who reads this to sit at an intersection, any intersection, for an hour and tell me they saw no one roll through, or clip the corner with folks in the crosswalk… conversely, I’d bet you’d see a few bike riders being hair-brained too.

    No amount of awareness will solve the issue unless the law slaps enough people on the wrist, hard!

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