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Greasing the Wheels: LIB Uses Prizes to Promote Online Bike Safety Quiz

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A tricky question from the quiz for teen and adult cyclists.

If you ride a bike on Illinois roadways, you’ve probably had the infuriating experience of having a motorist drive by you and yell, “Get on the sidewalk!”

Sure, that person was being a jerk, but it’s also likely they were unaware Illinois law says cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers when traveling in the roadway. They also probably didn't know that, in many municipalities like Chicago, it’s illegal for adults to pedal on the sidewalk.

To help spread the word about state bike laws, as well as to educate motorists about how to safely operate around cyclists, the League of Illinois Bicyclists launched the Illinois Bike Safety Quiz in June 2013. Since then, almost 18,000 people have taken the online test, which features dozens of challenging questions that were approved by the Secretary of State.

There are three versions of the quiz: one for elementary school age bicyclists, one for teen and adult cyclists, and one for motorists of all ages, including driver-ed students. Moving up through the bronze, silver, and gold levels requires answering all of the questions correctly, so the test rewards learning rather than just prior knowledge.

To make things more interesting, the League is awarding cash prizes to randomly selected test takers. Last month they gave out five $200 prizes to Peter Barson from Arlington Heights, Anthony Mikrut from Chicago, Jessica VanDyke from Olney, Maurice Ball from Lisle, and Nicole Ream-Sotomayor from Urbana. The prizes are funded by proceeds from the sale of the state’s “Share the Road” license plates.

Illinois' "Share the Road" license plate design.

LIB will be awarding five more $200 prizes between now and November 24. After completing the quiz, you can enter the drawing by signing up online for the League’s mailing list. There will be another round of prize drawings in April and May of next year. Quiz participants are eligible to win within one year of signing up.

“We’re doing this for the publicity,” explained LIB director Ed Barsotti. “We believed that providing some incentives would create a buzz and get more people interested.” He says the strategy has worked. After the prizes were announced a few weeks ago, the average number of test takers increased from under 100 a day to well over 100, including a few days with more than 200 participants, and one with over 400.

The League is also giving out cash prizes to schools and driver ed programs that have high student participation rates. Last May, they awarded $500 each to O’Fallon Township High, near St. Louis, and Mahomet-Seymour High School, in the Champaign-Urbana area, for participation in the driver’s quiz. In June, the LIB gave out a total of $2,500 in awards to three DuPage County elementary schools that participated in the child bicyclist quiz.

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From the test for drivers. Nope, the second option is not correct.

Barsotti says the test seems to be doing an effective job of educating drivers about how to safety share the road with bicyclists. “It’s pretty amazing what people do not know,” he said.

One question on the drivers’ quiz presents a hypothetical situation where the motorist is overtaking a bicyclist on a two-lane road as another driver is coming in the opposite direction. “You’d be surprised how many people think the right thing to do is veer into the oncoming lane to pass the cyclist, trusting that the other driver will get out of the way, rather than waiting for the other car to pass.”

As another incentive for taking the quiz, Divvy bike-share is offering a free extra month to its yearly members if they complete the quiz. The League hopes to partner with more organizations in the future to promote the test, Barsotti said.

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