Archive for the ‘Bike Education’ Category
As I say every year, EVERY month is National Bike Month – we all know that. However, it’s nice that national organizations like The League of American Bicyclists (who originated National Bike Month) and People For Bikes, are focusing their efforts on May – one of the best months to bicycle – just so that they can get some good traction and be more effective with their messaging.
Speaking of messaging, they’ve even come up with some helpful things (pdf) that advocates can post on Facebook and Twitter. Here are a few:
• Where will the ride take you? Join us this Bike Month to find out! [link]*
• Bike Month is here! What’s your favorite way to celebrate cycling?
• What are your favorite places to ride in [your community]?
• Do something different this Bike Month. Download the League’s BIke Month Bingo card and join the fun! bikeleague.org/bikemonth
• Are you grabbing your morning coffee on two wheels this morning? What’s the best thing about Bike to Work Day this year?
• Hopping on your bike instead of the bus to school this morning? Let us know how your celebration of Bike to School Day is going!
• Honor the past and empower the future of women in cycling! Join the Cyclo- femme movement and spread the word!
• More than 80% of bike commuters say they feel healthier & less stressed. How has biking improved your health?
• Average annual operating cost of a bicycle? $308. A car? $8,000. How do you spend the extra cash?
Even People For Bikes is doing a great push for National Bike Month. Their Roll Together - with two wheels or four wheels, let’s build the next generation of safer roads where we can all roll together - campaign is pretty impressive.
Well, I hope you get to take part in National Bike Month, and that you get a chance to enjoy a good ride or two (or 31).
Last weekend, I worked with BikeDFW and proudly participated at the Allen Family Bike Day – helping with a Youth Skills 123 course at the event. Headed by League Cycling Instructor Dorothy Zarbo, I was part of a team of LCIs which also included fellow LCI training graduates, Betsy Veneziano and Francis Schommer. We worked with local elementary and middle school students to run a successful Bike Rodeo for Allen kids.
We had a great time working with the kids, who in turn, helped others learn some basic safety skills. Kids learned how to signal their stops, left & right turns as well as how to yield in traffic. Since helmets were required on the course, some were loaned out by the City of Allen to those who forgot theirs. I’m hoping parents were inspired to remind their kids to continue wearing theirs.
I love doing these types of events, and I hope to do more across the DFW Metroplex.
Last Saturday was a pretty big day for me. I got to help teach a Traffic Skills 101 class for the first time. Co-instructing with me, was fellow League of American Bicyclists LCI graduate, Jenny. As recent graduates, we both have to co-instruct two classes before we can teach on our own. We were there to assist head instructor-extrodinare Mike and veteran instructor Brad, with 11 students in Garland.
As part of our instructor training, Jenny and I had to scope out locations for our parking lot drills, as well as map out the road course. We took a field trip to the area and decided that a local DART parking lot would work best for the parking lot drills. While out there, we decided to drive the road course that Jenny had plotted using Google maps – addressing any potential issues and altering the course as needed. We wanted to get a wide selection of roads to give us the opportunity to teach the students about a variety of road conditions. Also, since the road course was new to both of us, we returned to ride it the weekend before the class – just to make sure.
On the day of the class, Jenny and I carpooled. With bikes balanced on the bike rack, we rolled into the parking lot of local bike shop, Don Johle’s Bike World. My car was full of gear, forms, certificates and – most important – breakfast. The students were already gathering in front of the shop, ready to learn. So, after getting everybody introduced, registered, fed and ABC Quick Checked, we all rode to the DART parking lot to start the parking lot drills.
Parking Lot Drills:
Since Jenny and I were co-teaching our first class, Mike let us take the lead on giving instructions. Jenny and I tag-teamed this task, each helping the other fill in the gaps of information that the other might have missed. Once each drill was discussed and demonstrated, the group would split into two for practice runs. I worked with Mike and Jenny worked with Brad – who happened to be one of our TS101 instructors, when we took the class.
After lunch at Taco Cabana, it was time to do the road portion of the course. This can be taught a few different ways, as long as you are exposing your students to a variety of road conditions that they will encounter when they are riding on their own. We opted to ride as one group, while giving the students a few small exercises of riding solo. This gave them the opportunity to individually read, process and execute their routes using the information learned with the online course, as well as what we taught them with the parking lot drills.
When finished with the road course, the group returned to the bike shop, where the instructors were able to evaluate each student. Each scored very well and earned their Traffic Skills 101 Certificate.
Both Jenny and I appreciated the chance to co-instruct with great teachers, as well as this group of fantastic students. We couldn’t have ask for a better class to be our first. We hope that as we teach more of these classes, we get more refined and are better prepared to confidently teach on our own.
As part of my efforts to make my community a safer place for cycling, I decided to become a League Cycling Instructor, last year. Now that I’ve completed the course, I must co-teach, at least twice, before I can teach my own classes. This weekend will be my first opportunity to do that.
I will be assisting in the Traffic Skills 101 class in my neighboring city, Garland.
Quite frankly, although I’ll be working with an amazing team, I’m slightly nervous about this — a little because this is my first time, a little because I fear that I might forget something, a little because I might mess up a parking lot drill, and a lot because I want to make sure our students leave with more knowledge, skills and confidence to be safer on the road.
Hopefully, as I teach more, I will become more confident in doing this. Hopefully, we can inspire more students to become teachers, and help cycling become safer for everybody.
I saw this bike the other day and noticed it wasn’t locked up very well. Take a closer look and you’ll see that only the back wheel is cable locked to the gas meter.
Sure, it’s probably not the best bike in the world, but nobody wants to lose their bike to a jerk bike thief.
This person should watch this video to get an idea of how to do it right.
I’ve been cycling off and on for almost all my life, more off than on. In early 2008, my car club (I love the irony) started a “Biggest Loser” contest. Since I was the biggest and heaviest that I’ve ever been, I decided to join the challenge, eat healthier and start exercising. I started cycling more often, and really liked it.
I actually won that biggest loser contest (even though I could still lose a few pounds). What I find funny is that you never know how the choices you make – like a silly contest – will effect your life and where it will take you. I’ve become so passionate about cycling that I’ve started commuting by bike. I also advocate cycling, run a couple of bike blogs and now, I’ve decided to teach.
A few weeks ago, I took and successfully completed the League of American Bicyclists‘ League Cycling Instructor Seminar and become a League Cycling Instructor. I am LCI #3760 and I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. I’ll try to do a writeup about the course later on.
My goal, with the help of some friends, is to bring more education to my area to help elevate my city, Richardson, Texas to a more bike friendly status. To be continued.
I meant to post these last week, but I was busy with prepping for my own biking course (more to come on that). A couple of Sundays ago, we had our first – in quite some time – Bike League Traffic Skill 101 class in Richardson, Texas. The class was lead by League Cycling Instructors Mike Freiberger, Warren Casteel and Renee Jordan.
They had a great group of students with a broad range of riding experience. Their bicycles ranged from super light road bikes to incredibly long and heavy utility bikes. I was really impressed with how well all of the cyclist handle their bikes – even the big ones – through the parking lot drills. Scroll down to see a video of how well a long frame bike handles the really tight Avoidance Weave.
Here are some pics from the parking lot drills. Click here to see the rest.
Check out THIS Avoidance Weave:
I’ve been thinking about working with my local police department and setting up a system of bike registration to keep track of stolen bikes in my area. Unfortunately, the logistics of doing something like this seemed overwhelming. I decided to search around the internet for a solution that was already established.
Before I could get too far into my research, I saw this link over at BikeTexas.org and jumped right on it. A company called My Asset Tag is offering up FREE registration with their Bike Guard service. This free registration includes FREE Bike Guard Tags to stick on your bikes.
From their site: BikeGuard™: The Free Bike Registry is a service hosted by MyAssetTag, an online retailer which makes asset tags to identify your bike in case of theft or accident. We catalog bicycles and their owners via individual numbers stamped on the frame of registered bikes. And we offer asset tags and registration for up to three bikes to bike owners across North America for free.
Of course, these will not protect your bike from being stolen. However, if there is a chance of it getting recovered by the police, these tags will make it much easier to get it back to the rightful owner.
While you are at it, you may want to take the time and record your bike’s serial number and take a few current pics of it. The number is usually on the frame, just below the bottom bracket.
Here is what the Bike Guard Tags look like on your bike:
I’ve grown in my bicycle commuting experience, to where I’ve become more confident with getting around my suburban part of north Dallas. As I read about and experience more on the road, I’m discovering that there are better and safer ways to ride my bike to my destinations.
Education has been the next step in the evolution of my cycling journey and my goal is to gain the most knowledge and skills available so that the risk I take on my commutes is greatly reduced. The first step in this journey was the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 course that I took last month – which was really informative.
I was invited to take the course last year by one of the instructors, but the timing and money situation wouldn’t allow it. Before that, I had never heard of the course and wasn’t sure what to expect. Their website says:
The CyclingSavvy workshop is a 3-part program carefully designed to help you explore proven methods for safely and confidently navigating anywhere* in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex by bicycle. You will learn strategies for safe, stress-free integrated cycling and come away with the tools to read and problem-solve any new traffic situation or road configuration … You will cycle away excited, empowered, and ready to enjoy cycling anywhere* in Dallas/Fort Worth.
When I had asked around about the course, some folks had warned me that this was a hardcore cycling course with an agenda against bicycle infrastructure like bike trails and bike lanes. I was informed that, at least one of the instructors, has been outspoken on his criticism of the Dallas Bike Plan – which I am a supporter of. Not to dig too deeply on this topic – which might make it to it’s own post later – I decided to try the course out an form my own opinion about it.
Day 1 – Truth and Techniques of Traffic Cycling (the classroom portion):
This was a pretty informative presentation. They discussed bicycle traffic laws, “traffic dynamics and problem-solving strategies” and some techniques for better riding. They went through some statistics about cycling accidents, broke them down and explained their causes. Although a large portion of cycling accidents were not cause by collisions with cars, we did focused on that and went thought some animations and videos to learn techniques to avoid them. It was a lot of really good information in just 3 short hours. My only criticism with the course is that there wasn’t an extensive recap of all this information in the packet provided – for quick reference later. However, there are links on their site with many of the resources available.
At the end of the class, I felt very informed and inspired. Not only did I feel that it was a good course for cyclists, but also for drivers. I strongly recommend it for anybody who drives or rides on north Texas roads.
Day 2 (morning) – Train Your Bike (parking lot drills):
This part of the course was very similar to the Traffic Skills 101 parking lot drills, and quite frankly, much needed in my case. We went through the ABC Quick Check as well as mounting, starting, shifting and stopping on our bikes. We went through several handling drills which included scanning and signaling. We then did hazard avoidance maneuvers such as quick stop, rock dodge and instant turns. Having a smaller class helped us get more practice time in.
Day 2 (afternoon) – Tour of Dallas (road skill drills):
This part of the course was very different from the road skills portion of the Traffic Skills 101 course. We did travel as a group to each location, but each exercise was performed as a solo ride by each student. Before each exercise, thorough instructions were given on how to ride, what to expect and where to go. Maps were also chalked out when visual aid was needed. This was followed by a demonstration by one of the instructors, with a play-by-play given by one of the others. Then, one-by-one, each student executed the exercise.
Admittedly, some of the exercises seemed intimidating at first. However, with careful instruction, and more practice throughout the afternoon, we were feeling more and more confident as we worked through them. Plus, if we felt too nervous on any of the drills, we had the option to ride with an instructor. Nobody felt the need for that.
During the afternoon’s tour of Dallas, we practiced several skills, such as being predictable with lane position and hand signals. We learned ways to read and problem-solve traffic situations – even on major roads with heavy traffic. We learned how to politely control and release traffic, making it easier for drivers to make good decisions around you. We also learned how to deal with hazards, such as the door zone and traffic on single lane neighborhood streets. Most importantly, we learned how to feel confident and ‘empowered’ in any traffic situation.
At the end of the day, I felt more in control of my safety on the road. Riding has become less stressful on my commutes to work.
Unlike what I was lead to believe, there was no political agenda against bicycle infrastructure or to get people out of the bike lanes or off the bike trails. In fact, there were some useful instructions on how to safely use and avoid hazards that may occur while using bike lanes. There was no scheme to force you to ride on busy Dallas roads or to become a Vehicular Cyclists. However, the class does instill enough confidence, that inspires you to make better decisions with your bicycle rides.
I feel the Cycling Savvy course is a great resource for bicycle education – which I greatly support. The class has provided me with many tools to help me be a better cyclist. Overall, this course was well worth the money and time. If you are a serious about riding confidently around Dallas for commuting, sport or pleasure, you should take this course.
Click here to see all of my pics.
Just to tease it a bit, the course is a great resource for bicycle training and ‘empowerment’. The instructors did a great job at teaching me new techniques to confidently and safely ride to my destinations.
Until my review – just like the Traffic Skills 101 course – I highly recommend that you take this course. You will become a better cyclist.