Here, I reported on the classroom session of cycling savvy. Sunday morning, we collected for parking lot instruction. This is very similar to the parking lot session of the LAB Traffic 101 course. As a practical matter, it is almost IDENTICAL to the LAB Traffic 101 course parking lot session. Come to think of it, it has most of the SAME problems that the LAB Traffic 101 course parking lot sessions have. As a result, I’ll simply criticize both and compliment both as one body. IMO, most of the differences could just as easily be instructor-to-instructor variation.
|Waco Moore and Chandra Look Relaxed, Neither Yet Knew About the Ants in the Dirt to Waco's Right Where My Bike (and helmet) are Parked|
In both cases, the purpose of these drills are to build basic bike handling skills and to build student confidence in things like “looking behind to see if some car is going to squish you if you make that lane change you are contemplating.” Of course, rather than the wordy version, this is called a “head check” or a “scan.” Things start out showing us how to start out how to get on the bike and start out. That sounds pretty simple, but cyclists accumulate bad habits. Gail Spann, for example, caught me doing sloppy starts in my LCI Seminar that might cause problems for some riders. She even took photos, but I seem unable to find the link just now, so you'll have to do without examples of Steve riding badly. You might similarly suffer from bad habits that make things simpler for what you’re doing daily. I think the operative phrase is “do as I say, not as I do.” In the parking lot, bad habits get corrected and good habits get stronger. Why else would you spend all morning riding around in a single, empty parking lot?
From starting out, we advanced to practice shifting gears, and thence to turning, head checks, riding slowly, and we wound up practicing emergency maneuvers. Most of these drills are identical between the two courses. That really should not be a surprise, because the physics are independent of what course is being taught. Duh. One difference that I actually found a little disappointing was the "snail race." While Chandra proved once again that he is slower than me, I wonder if a better variant with stronger traffic application might be "how long can you take to go a single foot?" Same general idea, but staying behind a stop line without putting a foot down is something I do every day in traffic. I rarely try to go 20 feet (or whatever the length of the snail race was) as slowly as possible. In all fairness, if I had a brilliant alternative, you'd be reading about it here. Some things are simply BORING until someone comes along with the brilliant alternative everyone else wishes they'd thought of. Keri or Waco might well come up with that alternative some day, but it wasn't in Sunday's parking lot drills.
|Keri Caffrey Chalks Out What Might Create a Need for an Emergency Turn, Referred to as an "Instant Turn" Soon, There Were Cones and Sponges|
|Sponges in the Rock Dodge Course - Nice Unless it Got Windy|
On a personal basis, I found it interesting that Cycling Savvy used sponges to mark off the drill course, while the Traffic 101 courses I’ve experienced have used cut up tennis balls. Sponges seem like a good idea – AS LONG as it doesn’t get windy. I haven’t seen it done in person, but an idea I recently heard on the "LCI Mailing List" that seems better than EITHER approach is to simply cut up a colored bath mat and use it. Bath mats make less of a bump to a bike wheel running one over than a tennis ball, but they would not be caught so easily by the wind as a sponge. Yup, I’m a bike school geek!
One problem common to BOTH programs is that instructors seem to have problems holding the students to a precise schedule. I suspect the students are not as "parking lot schedule aware" as the instructors. Note to myself: try the "train and station" approach. I’d hoped that somehow, Cycling Savvy’s new approach would have found a miracle solution, but miracles are not always to be found. Well, at least it made things no worse in that regard, and a more rigid student limit kept things more manageable for two instructors.
|Students About to Discover the Ants. You'll Note My Helmet and Bike Were No Longer There, Only My Water Bottle|