The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has partnered with the City of Grand Rapids for “Driving Change,” an innovative campaign promoting bicyclist safety. Having recently made significant infrastructural improvements to enhance bicyclist safety, Grand Rapids was chosen as the pilot city for this campaign, which seeks to educate bicyclists and motorists about the infrastructure changes and encourage healthy relationships and respect between road users.
Guided by a steering committee of more than 40 local stakeholders representing the community, the pilot project began with a full assessment of bicyclist safety in the area, conducting crash analyses and evaluating existing programs, activities and communications. Once a strategy and goals had been set, a kick-off event was held to launch the Driving Change campaign to community partners and media. The campaign was then implemented through paid and earned media efforts and promoted by city organizations, law enforcement partners and local leaders. The Grand Rapids campaign website, grdrivingchange.org, houses a variety of resources including videos explaining road safety techniques, guidelines for safe road sharing for motorists and bicyclists, a quiz on “healthy road relationships” and information on Grand Rapids’ bicycle safety plans. The Driving Change pilot program was honored at the Michigan Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee’s 2018 awards, as well as recognized as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) 2018 Pedestrian and Bicyclist Assessment.
Given the success of the pilot program, MDOT intends to make Driving Change replicable in localities across Michigan and, with customization to account for state-specific laws, across the country. MDOT has created a Playbook describing how to implement the campaign and personalize it to address specific community needs, which is available at michigan.gov/Driving-Change-Bike-Safety. The page also contains resources such as a marketing plan, sample work plan, evaluation reports and sample messaging.
Editor's Note: Though this project was not conducted by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (the State Highway Safety Office), it could be replicated by an SHSO.