Posts Tagged ‘League Of American Bicyclists’
One of the main reasons that I became a League Cycling Instructor was to teach people how to ride bikes and how to do it safely. Although the League’s Traffic Skills 101 has been a staple course that’s taught in my area, my hope is to get better trained at Bicycling Skills 123 and Bicycling Skills 123 Youth and teach kids how to ride safer. If you teach them young, perhaps they’ll carry those skills with them into adulthood.
Something that I never considered was teaching adults how to ride. Being connected to our local advocacy group, BikeDFW and a network of local LCIs, we discovered that there was enough interest in this course, that we decided to offer it.
Many of our available instructors (including myself) were not fully trained in teaching this course, so we reached out to Gail Copus Spann, who is not only an LCI, but also trains them. Gail was able to take time away from her busy schedule as Chair of the Board of Directors for the League of American Bicyclists, to help teach both students and instructors. The students learned how to ride while the instructors picked up some great techniques on how to teach this course.
We decided to have the course at Bob Woodruff Park, in Plano, where there was plenty of open space that included a nice, grassy hill. The class was scheduled to run just a couple of hours, because any longer, students start to get burned out and too tired to focus. That was plenty of time to get the students acquainted with the basic fundamentals of the course and allow them to continue at their own pace, if needed.
The first thing we noticed in offering this course, is that most of the students did not have their own bicycles. This made sense, since they haven’t ridden before. We were able to pull together a few loaners, which we plan to offer for future courses. Once we got all of the bikes set up and fitted for each student, we were able to start taking them through the steps.
The pace of the course was slow by design. The goal was to steadily teach each student how to control the bike and not let the bike control them. Gail guided the students down the low-sloping, grassy hill dozens of times to help them gain their confidence and increase their skill level. With every run, our team of instructors would watch and evaluate the student’s progress – providing positive feedback. We were amazed at the level of progression that was made by each student throughout the course.
By the end of the class, all of the students were able to ride their bikes. The smiles on their faces reminded us of how wonderful it is to start somebody down the amazing path of bicycling. I enjoyed working with Gail and the other instructors, Warren, Mike and Bob. I hope to get more opportunities to assist people with courses like this.
Mark your calendars! Friday, May 17, 2013 is National Bike To Work Day. IF there is ever a day to ride to work, make it this day. Think about the positive statement we’ll be making as cyclists, safely using an alternate form of transportation throughout the DFW Metroplex.
GARLAND - Downtown Garland Station (Partnered with The City of Garland)
DALLAS - Akard Station (Partnered with the City of Dallas)
OAK CLIFF - Jefferson St. Viaduct (Partnered with Bike Friendly Oak Cliff)
RICHARDSON - Arapaho Station (Partnered with Bike Friendly Richardson)
PLANO - Intersection of Bluebonnet & Chisholm Trail (Partnered with The City of Plano)
DATE: Friday, May 17, 2013
TIME: 6:30-9:00 am
If you are in the area, please stop by. Also, let them know on Facebook.
MORE DETAILS TO COME.
KIND Healthy Snacks - on Facebook (All Stops)
Clif Bars - on Facebook (All Stops)
Neuro Energy Drinks (Akard Stop)
Re-Geared - on Facebook (Akard Stop)
Generator Coffee House - on Facebook (Garland Stop)
Zang Triangle Apartments - on Facebook (Oak Cliff Stop)
Plano Cycling and Fitness - on Facebook (Plano Stop)
Richardson Bike Mart - on Facebook (Richardson and Akard Stops)
Don Johle’s Bike World - on Facebook (Garland Stop)
Oak Cliff Bicycle Company - on Facebook (Oak Cliff Stop)
ALSO: There will be other stations available:
Dallas Bike Works will have coffee and doughnuts and free minor repairs from 7:30 – 9:30am at White Rock Creek Trail where it passes under NW Highway (opposite the shop on Lawther). Facebook Event here.
The City of Fort Worth will have food and beverages and a bike share station set up at the Inter-modal Transit Center from 7:30 – 9am. There will be group rides to the Fort Worth event starting from various locations (map).
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 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 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:
Raise your hand. How many of you ride a bike without ever learning how to ride a bike? I’m not talking about that moment when you discover your balance on a two-wheeler and the training wheels come off. I’m talking about actually learning the skills and rules that will actually keep you safe on the road.
Like most of you, I was given little to no training on a bike. My parents sent me to a traffic safety course when I was a kid, but that was just to teach me basic knowledge of stop signs, yield signs, crosswalks and traffic lights. If anything, we learned how to make hand signals. I remember years of my childhood, carelessly riding around the neighborhood without helmets and barely watching out for traffic. It’s amazing that I’m still alive.
As I got older, most of my road travel was by car. My road knowledge came from driver’s ed and years of experience while navigating through rush hour traffic. Even so, I felt that riding my bike around town required a new level of training.
I’ve been wanting to take the League of American Bicyclists, Traffic Skills 101 course (hosted by BikeDFW) for a while, but was never able to make the time. Last weekend, I was finally able to attend.
The local class has been modified so that the first part of the course is done online. That portion had to be completed and passed, prior to meeting up for the bike skills training. The online course is relatively easy, as long as you pay attention to the materials. It consists of 4 chapters that cover everything from Bicycle Parts, Bicycle Selection, Adjusting Your Bicycle, Clothing & Equipment, Pre-Ride Safety Check, Tools, Tires, Gears, Adjusting Derailleurs, Adjusting Brakes, Bicycle Handling Basics, Bicycling in Traffic, Emergency Maneuvers, Crash Avoidance, Road Hazards, Riding Enjoyment, Energy Maintenance, Trail Etiquette, to Educating Motorists. The online course can be finished in a couple of hours (more or less, depending on if you are watching TV at the same time).
The classroom portion of the course took a good part of a Sunday, where I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was this going to be a reprise of my slightly useless childhood traffic safety course, or was this going to he a hardcore drill that would toss me in the middle of a major road with hundreds of cars speeding around me? I soon learned that this part of the class was divided into two sections. The morning was set aside for the parking lot drills, while the afternoon was left for the road portion.
After a nice morning of breakfast, introductions and a quick review of the online course, we went out to do our first lesson – the ABC Quick Check. Here we learned how we should be inspecting our bikes to ensure a safe ride to our destinations. This is something that should be practiced every time you go out for a ride. Steve A from DFWPointToPoint, who was there as an instructor, pointed out that a quick release always seems to work itself loose and you should never assume it’s locked. Sure enough, mine were loose.
Next, we rode out to our first destination, a parking lot down the street so that we could learn and practice some basic handling and safety skills. There, we divided up into two smaller groups, where two instructors, each, took us through several drills. Our instructors, Renee and Brad, taught us quite a bit, including starting and stopping, scanning, signaling, rock dodge, quick stops and instant turns all while maintaining good control of our bikes. Quite frankly, I thought this would be the easiest part of the class. To my surprise, I found the drills to be somewhat challenging – especially the instant turns.
Once we had completed all of the parking lot drills, the instructors took us out on the streets to familiarize us with the route of the bicycling in traffic portion of the course. After that, we took a break for lunch.
After lunch, the instructors separated us into even smaller groups. Each group rode a few loops of the street course with an instructor following close behind – offering up instruction, tips and feedback as we utilized the skills we had learned earlier at the parking lot. The route covered several lane changes, obstacles and challenges all while riding in moderate to heavy traffic. Riders had to think ahead, observe all the traffic laws, communicate with drivers (via eye contact and hand signals), be predictable, handle hazard avoidance and deal with lane position – all while keeping their cool and maintaining control of their bikes.
I was most apprehensive about the road portion of the class. Although I ride on the streets, they’re usually back roads with low traffic, so I wasn’t sure what to expect getting on this busier route. Again, to my surprise, I found that it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The online course and the parking lot drills helped build my courage for bicycling in traffic. My fellow rider, Steve and instructor, Brad also helped me ride confidently when it was my turn to lead the group.
It was a good day of quality training that made me a better bicyclist, while undoing many years of bad riding habits.
Overall, I felt that the Traffic Skills 101 course is well worth it, and everybody who rides should take this class. Even if you find yourself a confident road rider, it’s always nice having some knowledge and a few skills to take on the ride with you.
Just to tease it a bit, the course was both harder and easier than I expected. Until my review, I highly recommend that if you get the chance – take the course. You will become a better cyclist.
As I ride deeper into the world of bicycling, I’ve made it my goal to become a much better cyclist. Along with wanting to build my skills and confidence on the road, I felt the need to improve my knowledge of bicycling as well. In doing so, I decided to take a break from the bicycle love and advocacy books and spend some time with a good A-to-Z book about basic cycling.
Being a member of the League of American Bicyclists, I chose to start with their book: Smart Cycling, edited by League President Andy Clarke. Admittedly, my expectation for this book was pretty low. It’s geared with information needed “to teach new and returning cyclists to take the road safely and confidently.” I was certain that it would be filled with lots of information that I already knew – stuff like, here are they types of biking, this is how you pick a bike, this is how you ride a bike, this is how you signal and this is what you wear while riding. Even with my limited experience with utility cycling, I thought this was going to be the big book of bicycle-duh. To a small degree, I was right.
However, this book also made me realize that there was plenty of stuff that I don’t know. As I was reading through Smart Cycling, I discovered that there were holes and gaps in the limited bicycle knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years. I’ve already started applying some of these new principles and techniques on my current rides.
I’ve gained a lot of respect for the folks who compiled and organized this thorough and informative book. I’d even call it the General Owner’s Manual to Bicycling. It’s filled with a wide range of information that you may already know about cycling – as well as some stuff you might not.
The book also comes with a DVD. It’s contents pair up nicely with the bike handling skills and avoidance maneuvers sections of the book. The production value is similar to that of a driver’s education video, but it’s still pretty informative.
Now, if you are looking for a more detailed information on road skills or street riding savvy, you may need to look somewhere else. Even though Smart Cycling has dedicated chapters on Rules of the Road, Bicycle Handling Skills and Avoidance Maneuvers, I felt they weren’t detailed enough to replace a good training class or the knowledge of a good instructor. Nothing beats hands-on experience.
Overall, I would recommend picking up a copy of Smart Cycling and read through it. The chapters are short, self-contained and well written – giving readers the chance to take in small pockets of knowledges at a time. This is perfect for somebody like me who doesn’t get much time for reading. It’s also a great reference source for when my non-biking friends ask me for advice on cycling.
Of course, my initial goal was to ride every day this week. Because of my crazy schedule at work, it got trimmed down to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Now, because of other commitments, I won’t be able to bike commute to work on Friday (National Bike To Work Day – the day I really wanted to do this).
Still, I got a couple of days in this week, and I use this event to kick off my season of bike to work commuting. It won’t be every day, but when my work load allows a normal day and the weather is nice, I’ll be commuting by bike.
Check out some pics from my rides:
As a side note, of the three cities that I ride through to get to work (Richardson, Dallas and Plano), west Plano is the worst. The traffic in west Plano is not bike friendly. The neighborhoods (at least the ones on my route) are not interconnected – so a quiet, back street route is out of the question.
Basically, the biggest deterrent for my commute is having to ride through that part of town.