When we discuss the 5 Es, it’s easy to get hung up on engineering (the process of building bicycle-friendly streets and facilities for cyclists). However, the cooperation of law enforcement can be a big deal for bicyclists. An engaged and educated police force helps cyclists because it understands the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists, and it also helps with PR (because law enforcement may also take action against scofflaw cyclists).
In the Twin Cities area, many local police departments are well-trained about cyclist rights and responsibilities. I have personally had positive interactions with both Minneapolis and Saint Paul police in this regard. Awareness of cyclists and traffic laws can be a little more sporadic in certain counties and rural enforcement areas.
I’m always interested in seeing the materials being used with police departments to educate, regardless of location. The below video is a capture of materials used with the LAPD in Los Angeles, a city that is trying to become friendlier to cyclists, and whose police department hasn’t the best reputation for a lot of things.
Knowledgeable law enforcement is a really big deal for cyclists. At an accident scene, it can be the difference between a motorist getting a ticket or not in some scenarios, and to be frank, it’s a heck of a lot easier to try to press an insurance claim in the presence of a documented moving violation than when the police assume the cyclist is at fault. This is part of the reason the proposed harsher penalties for causing injury accidents to cyclists and pedestrians are important.