Saturday, January 16

Traffic 101 Day 1

Gail Spann concentrates on a question
Some readers of this blog have taken "Traffic 101" or its predecessor, "Road 1" from the Bike League. Others have taught it. Some might be wondering what and why anyone should go out of their way to take such a course? Here's my take, so far, on the whole thing, with more comments reserved for when Day 2 finishes up tomorrow and I'm not getting ahead of things. For anyone reading this in the frozen north, I think Traffic 101 is roughly equivalent to "Reader's Digest"  "Can-Bike 1," with many elements of "Can-Bike 2."

Curriculum
The course is set up with four hours of lecture and five hours of on-bike drills and riding. The second portion is what I was graced with earlier by Richard and Dorothy, reported here, though as far as I know, they weren't actually giving me grades on my riding. Today, I got to hear the classroom portion. It sounds like we get to take a test tomorrow at the end of it all. That'd come out of the five hours of bike time. I hope it's a short test.

Target Audience
The course is clearly oriented towards people looking to become more comfortable operating their bikes in traffic, NOT someone who has worn out his copy of Effective Cycling through overuse. Still, I found it useful to hear material presented in a different format by different people, and to see and experience it with the target audience. I understand much better why the course is rarely given to individuals. The group dynamic adds to the learning. Gail Spann had the somewhat dubious task of keeping 5 hours of lecture interesting to the class. To her credit, she did admirably in this respect, keeping us all from dying from Powerpoint, with Richard Wharton and Dorothy Zarbo giving demos of the principles being explained.

Observations from One NOT in the Target Audience
  • First off, I got answers to the last two objectives from yesterday's post.
  • Second, I heard some fairly objective lecture on bike lanes. I felt mildly encouraged by this. Nothing I heard would lead me to believe my current approach to them is wrong.
  • Third, I thought Gail was going to come over and smack me when I raised my hand when she asked if anyone rode with earphones. She did back off a little, when I stated that I'd found John Allen's discussion of that to be the best considered and most reasonable I've seen on the subject.
  • Fourth, "the line of sweetness" is not part of the Traffic 101 Lesson Plan.
  • FINALLY, Gail instructed us to make stop signals that (other than the assertive finger point and wonderful head check) look EXACTLY like those I wondered about here, causing Keri Caffrey to shake her head in frustration about engineers. Richard spoke up at that moment, favoring the "droopy arm at the elbow" stop signal that I've adopted and that avoids looking like unintended communication to motorists that have never seen an arm stop signal. With THIS last observation, all I can say is to quote Chandra - ie "peace."
More Takeaways
I highly recommend taking this course with people you know. It adds to the value. I'm fortunate that Chandra and one of my fellow commuters at Alliance are taking the course together with me. On the way home from class, the discussion turned to triggering signals and how exactly the ubiquitous detection cameras around Tarrant County actually work, especially at night. This was prompted by the rather brief treatment of induction triggered traffic lights. I think there'll be a future post on more particulars regarding cyclist interactions with video detection cameras.
Above, Chandra Indicates One Should Discourage Unfriendly Dogs Kindly
Shaggy Would be Proud!

Below, Richard Wharton Uses Gail's Fabulous Colnago to Demonstrate a Classroom Point

1 comment:

Eliot said...

Glad you got to attend! I'm very jealous!

P.S. I ride with earbuds too. I picked it up in Amsterdam where I saw almost everyone listening to music/podcasts.

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