The bicycle safety novels were designed to educate a sector of the population that continues to make up a significant number of people involved in bicycle related crashes. The novels were initially developed in 2011 to help address a trend we saw in our crash data that showed boys between the ages of 12-17 made up 80 percent of the bicyclists hit below the age of 18. The novels were designed for boys in or above the third grade level as a way to get through to this at-risk section of the population.
The novel series depicts the harmful and sometimes deadly consequences of ignoring bike safety rules and were developed to be graphic in hopes that they would be more likely to be read and retained by kids in this age range. Each novel shows a safe behavior in contrast to unsafe behavior. A focus group that included representatives from schools, hospitals and parents provided input into the design.
Based on their popularity with students and the demand we received from various schools additional novels were produced between 2013 and 2014.
As a standard all schools review the novels before they are shared with students in schools. The comic book series has been integrated into an in-class reading curricula where the head of our school safety team takes the novels into classrooms and has the students read through and discuss the lessons. The head of our school safety team has taught bike safety using these novels to hundreds of students in schools across the city.
We are currently preparing to develop a new series of novels for youth between the ages of 6 and 9. Recognizing this is a much younger demographic, the tone, graphic and creative elements will differ from that of our current novel series. As we did with our first novel series, a focus group that includes parents and educators will be involved with providing input during the development process for the new series.