Guest post alert! Today we hear from cyclist visiting from southwest Florida, Toni Ferrell.
Over the past weekend, I joined the Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle for its Urban Cycling Techniques class. The two-day class includes basic maintenance and handling, signaling, group riding and a safety skills clinic for emergency maneuvers. Statistics consistently support the mantra: “Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.”
My goal in taking the class was to progress toward certification by the League of American Bicyclists as a League Cycling Instructor. When I was a young teen, my father enrolled me in a similar class and I’ve been riding on the road ever since. In over 30 years, my only dust-up with a motorist was during a ride on a side path when I was behaving as a pedestrian. Attending a class with the Cascade Bicycle Club also gave me the chance to engage with and learn from a powerful organization; Cascade may be the largest bicycle club in the country, with over 11,000 13,000 members.
Our class, led by three fun-loving instructors, included students with a broad range of age, experience and bicycling styles. Three attendees are a part of the Green Bike Project (free bikes to those who pledge and maintain a dedicated percentage of bicycle commuting); some had never bicycled in traffic; some were just learning how to shift their gears or pump up their tires for the first time. The most enjoyable element for me, of course, was in the saddle: group drills learning safety skills and group rides in traffic.
Through one of the instructors, I learned about a Cascade class developed for adults and seniors: Adult Beginners Learn-2-Ride. On Tuesday morning I shadowed the adult class during their final session of this four-part class. We began with a group discussion and review of various traffic scenarios, aided by diagrams in Cascade’s guide “How to get around via Bike.” We focused most on lane choice and positioning in traffic, scanning, signaling, and riding with confidence and predictability. Then we embarked on a half hour ride through Magnuson Park, where the students were able to employ their new skills and learn from each other.
On the road, we are considered vehicles; we have the same responsibilities and the same laws guiding our choice of behavior. This is the important lesson for us all, and a primary key to safer cycling: Drive Your Bike!
Toni Ferrell is an Architect and dedicated bicycle advocate. Last summer she made her first visit to Seattle to begin a solo self-supported bicycle journey, ending in San Francisco. She is currently enjoying an extended visit on Whidbey Island, soaking up the bicycle-friendly climate of the Pacific Northwest.