Sunday, May 30

Nowhere Else to Go

I first learned of the Bike League (LAB, though the legal description is "League of American Wheelmen, DBA League of American Bicyclists", or LAW DBA LAB) through Eugene Sloane’s book, forty years ago. Through the years, I’ve bumped up against it from time to time, but it never seemed very compelling. Indeed, as an organization, it has had major ups and downs. More recently, I was unexcited by its attempts at political influence, and considered its “bicycle friendly” attempts a bad joke. It didn’t help when I signed up for a Traffic 101 Course that got cancelled without notice. Actually, my Facebook profile picture shows me riding off to that cancelled class, ignorant that it was not to be. My new commute hardened my attitude about the organization. Thankfully, Whareagle  and BikinGail have gotten some Bike Ed going locally once again.
I joined the Bike League this month. There are two reasons I joined.

The first reason is that I know that cycling education can make things safer for any cyclist, regardless of experience level and available infrastructure, and it is the ONLY step a cyclist can personally take to BE safer while riding. Need I repeat? Alone amongst national bicycle organizations, the Bike League has an organized program to teach cycling, and to certify the instructors, and its program has a sound basis. This may change some day, but for now, in Texas, LAB is it. While PM Summer and I may not agree on all things, just today, he advised: "I recommend that San Antonio's bicycle coordinator contact a local LCI (League Cycling Instructor) in order to learn how to ride safely and confidently. She'll be glad she did." THAT says it all. Thanks, PM. What's more, that is good advice for pretty much anybody. I know I've picked up useful information from each unofficial and offical Bike Ed I've had, and I've been riding longer than my loyal reader has been alive.

The second reason is you have to join to become a certified instructor. LCI class is next weekend.

So, in reality, if someone wants to know why I joined, and why I don’t quit, I’ll pinch a scene from “AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN,” where Officer Candidate Mayo, when harassed by the Gunnery Sergeant about why he doesn’t just quit, yells back “I got nowhere else to go!” Actually, that’s a pretty good reason, and I can think of quite a few people I respect who belong, and remain in LAB, for exactly that reason. I know others that have left LAB because of the feelgood mumbo jumbo and because LAB has drifted from its roots, but, in my mind, I'll put up with that because it retains the one element that cyclists can take advantage of to proactively make a choice to be safer. And nobody else has that element.

21 comments:

Mineral Woman! said...

Thank you Steve. Amen.

whareagle said...

Steve, oh man, I really, really, really needed to hear that. Thank you so much.

Khal said...

Good post; keep up the good fight.

BobS said...

Here's a nice review of Savvy Cycling: http://tinyurl.com/3yfkm9z
See also http://commuteorlando.com/education/classes.html

I'd love to see it myself!

Ed W said...

Good post, Steve. LAB has both good and bad points. What matters is what balance you find between them. Balance - what a concept for a cyclist!

Steve A said...

Bob & Ed,
I've been keeping a close eye on the FBA classes. They LOOK a lot like the Traffic 101 so far, but they've also only had one or two courses so it is still too early to tell. Regardless, it'll be a LONG time before anything but LAB is an option for us in the Central Time Zone or points west. PLUS, one of the major FBA course influences is from California, so Bob can hold his head up high if the course does well.

I tried very hard in this post to AVOID goring oxen of those that I know have cast aside LAB recently (not mentioning names) due to all the "mumbo jumbo." Their actions were not taken lightly, which makes it ironic that I come INTO the fold at the same time. That influence contributed to the substance and content of this post.

In the final analysis, IS there some place else to go?

What's more, given the current Florida experience, is there really room for cycling people to fight amongst themselves any more? In the words of Franklin, "We must hang together, gentlemen...else, we shall most assuredly hang separately."

I do NOT consider myself a cycling advocate, but there is much worse out there than the WORST within LAB...

cafiend said...

I left LAB because they never responded to my communications by letter and email. I received appeals for money but no personal acknowledgment of points I tried to raise. No personal acknowledgment at all, in fact. Suffering from a chronic lack of funds, I decided I did not have the only thing they wanted from me: money. I was doing a fine job figuring out traffic cycling for myself, so I did not need their instruction, either. A lot that I derived through experience seems to be accepted technique now.

In other areas the local LAB affiliates may be doing a more visible and effective job reaching local riders with education that suits their local riding conditions. I live on the frontier here.

Steve A said...

Cafiend, in that way, LAB is like AARP. I have nothing to do with those sumbitches that sold out their members for some healthcare crap that will NOT benefit their members. Ditto for certain (unnamed) alumni funds that will NEVER be satisfied.

It's not about LAB affiliates, it's about individuals creating Yeti.

Frontier or otherwise, the situation is identical. Consider that when the traffic dweebs set a logging truck on you. I don't think I hold LAB in any higher regard than you do, and hence the title of the post.

The essential question is: how to create a viable pool OF local riders? Neither of us has got somewhere else to go.

Velouria said...

I like the reference form that film!

In my attempt to figure out why I am so resistant to join any cycling group, coalition, or community, I have realised that the answer is simple: I just don't want to and prefer complete independence to affiliations. Of course, they probably wouldn't want me either - what with my immoral helmetlessness and my questioning of cycling infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

[Not really anonymous, just don't belong to these lists: BikeTeacher 1307]

Good blog. You raise my own concerns. I stay as far away from the warm fuzzies as I can but remain an LCI because that's where I can help.

Good luck in the LCI seminar and have fun teaching. It really is not to be missed. [Best feedback comment so far: "I had no idea what you could talk about for two days. Now that the class is over, it wasn't long enough."]

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I really miss the LAW!

ChipSeal said...

Steve, why do you need LAB certification to increase the Yeti population?

LAB actively undermines your efforts. You are joining an outfit that advocates putting cyclists in physical peril and seeks to remove our rights to the roadway.

When seeking to liberate my fellows, I should hardly join with those who are oppressing me.

As it is the official policy of LAB that public roads are inherently undesirable for cyclists, and that cyclists shouldn't have their right to operate on them defended, you are tainted by associating with them.

Be a trail-blazer, Steve, and bring FBA training to Texas. It would then be here sooner than you expected, and you will be better able to look yourself in the eye when you shave in the morning.

Khal said...

I can't imagine the FBA courses being all that different than the LAB variant as they are all vehicular cycling/Forester based. I'd be willing to bet that Keri and Mighk might experiment with different ways of teaching and different pedagogical styles, but frankly, the TS courses are not exactly what I would consider a straitjacket, either.

A third option is John Forester's Effective Cycling Instructor's Manual.
http://www.johnforester.com/BTEO/ECIM6.pdf

Right now, I'm with Steve on considering Ben Franklin's quote. Bicycling politics is no different than any other form: certainly no worse than watching sausage being made.

Commute Orlando's Bicyclist-Friendly Community Pyramid is a good place to start and I'd like to see the LAB BFC Program explicitly use that pyramid as its high-level model, filling in the details in that pyramid structure.

http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2009/03/17/strategy-for-a-cyclist-friendly-community/

Khal said...

Regarding LAB and roadway rights, here is their statement.
http://www.bikeleague.org/about/positions/cyclistsrights.php

Steve A said...

Chip, watch the video again. I have received no response to my inquiry about the FBA program, and it has only been tried once so far even in Florida. From what I've seen, it is very similar to T101 and was entirely designed BY LAB LCIs. Next weekend, I will know how much lattitude a LCI will have about T101 and T201. For my fellow commuters at work, it may well be that neither is optimum. I simply don't know - yet.

If you have seen any policy pronouncement advocating what you claim, please add a link. Also, please remember that John Adams (the President, not the brewmaster) defended British soldiers before the revolution. For the moment, I'm not worried about being tainted. Going forward, my actions will speak for themselves and I'm not worried about being able to look myself in the eye in the morning.

So LAB needs some straightening out. Should that be news? I've dealt with this kind of BS before...

Steve A said...

Khal, Chip is making an oblique reference to LAB not putting ther effort where their policy statements are. He's exactly correct in that regard, but the SUMBITCHES haven't had their feet held to the fire either.

And, yes, the FBA course consists of lecture, drills, and road riding, just as does T101. The emphasis is a bit different, but the principles are identical, just as you surmise. They DO have some WONDERFUL videos to illustrate their points, which LAB would do well to use or copy.

ChipSeal said...

Dear Khal, the LAB position statement is a blatant lie.

"The League emphasizes the time-honored, time-proved classification of bicycles and other low-speed vehicles as road vehicles with respect to traffic law; that the right of travel by all reasonable means is universal; and that licensing of drivers and registration of vehicles are not a prerequisite for use of the roads, but rather, reflect the greater harm which can be done by larger and/or faster vehicles.

The League supports expanding the rights of bicyclists to use limited access freeway shoulders where no other reasonable alternative routes exist. The League opposes laws, policies and plans which in any way restrict bicyclists’ rights to the road by forcing bicyclists to use special bicycle facilities."


The League's actions are so loud I cannot hear what they are saying.

Until their actions and their words align, why should I trust them at all?

Steve A said...

ChipSeal inquires: "Steve, why do you need LAB certification to increase the Yeti population?"

It's very simple. My current and former workplaces are targets for instruction, not to mention other large work centers. A certified instructor will be taken seriously, and positively, because that becomes a "no cost" employee benefit. The same offer from "nobody" gets ignored.

Certainly, certification does not help me create Yeti other than however much my teaching skills are improved, but it is like my engineering degree in that it helps open the door.

Do you really think I took the official T101 so I could take a test? Richard needs help now. Pretty soon, so will I.

m e l i g r o s a said...

thanks for the links steve!
the streets of SF, as cliche as that sounds, have thought me the vast majority of street savvys you can learn that are not necessarily in a book. Im a huge reader, and this is always nice to have for ref. and a good read.
cheers and keep riding!

xxo.m

Khal said...

Steve makes a good point. Neale Pickett and I have a standing invite to teach TS 101 to the largest employer in N. New Mexico. LANL gets the instruction provided to the work force while not having to have worried about how to train the instructors and create a syllabus. Its a no-brainer. Under other circumstances, maybe I would be annoyed and feeling taken advantage of. Not this time.

cafiend said...

Courses under any auspices are important to people who learn best from formalized programs. Other people really do learn better on their own. Those independent learners may even pick up scraps from the formalized classes and course materials as they come across them.

Clubs may attract annoying preeners who like to flaunt their group identity in your face. Not all clubs and club members are that way, but any interest group runs that risk. Humans are prone to it. Groups may also turn their traditions into dogma, further alienating the independent thinker.

Human existence is a constant adjustment between points of view. Transportation corridors bring nearly all points of view together. We all have to squeeze through the same tubes to get to where we can disperse again and get out of each other's faces.

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