Posts Tagged ‘Bike Education’
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.
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.
BikeDFW will have League of American Bicyclists certified Cycling Instructors conducting a Traffic Skills 101 course. For the small fee of $65 you can take part of a 2-day course that will give cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail.
Date: Jan. 16th and 17th, 2009 (Saturday and Sunday)
Location: Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road, Dallas , TX 75087
Registration Fee: $65.00
CLICK HERE for details and to sign up.