Saturday, September 10

Cycling Savvy Preliminaries

Fellow Student, Chandra, Boards the TRE
First, I'll start with an update to that "Earphone Myth" post. When I mentioned it to someone before class started, the reaction was "eww, that is as controversial as a helmet post or gun control, only less well known!" And so it was.

Talk, Talk, Talk!
Friday was the lecture segment to Cycling Savvy. Cycling Savvy is an educational product of the Florida Bicycling Association that was principally developed by two cyclists in the Orlando area. Rather than belabor the details, go here to learn more about the developers and the organization. Our course was co-taught by Waco Moore and Keri Caffrey. Waco was one of my co-students when I took my second LCI Seminar and Keri came in from Orlando.

Chandra Unfolds the Folder
My own context for this post is from the context of one who has been trained to teach the Bike League curriculum; particularly Traffic 101. Most readers, if they know anything at all about bicycle education, know of that or its Canadian counterpart.

Cycling Savvy Myth
It is easier to first start with what Cycling Savvy is NOT. Despite what might be claimed, such as comments here, or even in Cycling Savvy literature, if the lecture I heard is believed, the underlying principles of how to operate a bicycle in traffic are identical as are taught in the LAB curriculum, and so Cycling Savvy is most emphatically not "new" in that regard. While Cycling Savvy claims to eschew "vehicular cycling," it does so only in avoiding the offensive language often associated with "vehicular cycling" advocates. Phrases such as "infeariority," "phobia" and similar hot button words. It presents simple information, simply and plainly. The closest it came to inflammatory rhetoric was when Waco contrasted bike ed videos from the 50's with the current "gotta wear a helmet" variety. Cycling Savvy, in short, does not pretend there is some magical new way to ride safely. It simply tells the student what to do.

Instructor Waco Moore Prepares for Cycling Savvy Lecture
A second thing that Cycling Savvy is NOT, is a general bicycling course, and this is really the major difference from the LAB Traffic 101 course. Simply said, Cycling Savvy will not teach you how to fix a flat tire, adjust brakes, or how to adjust a derailleur, while Traffic 101 does cover those topics. The difference is crucial to a student, however. It means that Cycling Savvy has much more class time to cover riding situations. It also means a prospective student needs to consider just what he/she really needs to learn and alternate ways to get that learning. On the other hand, if all things bikes (and not only  riding) are somewhat of a mystery to you and you don't even know where to start, Traffic 101 is a better bet.

Instructor and Course Co-Developer Keri Caffrey Takes a Brief, Well-earned Break
Steve Editorial Before We Get Too Far
My own strictly personal and unofficial opinion, neither endorsed nor prohibited by anyone, is that most people considering taking a cycling course are people scared because the BS they have been fed makes them nervous about simply enjoying the act of riding their bikes. Just like non-swimmers worry about all that water, prospective cyclists are concerned about those 18 wheelers. What's more people simply don't believe that I'm comfortable on the same road as 18 wheelers (GOD BLESS PROFESSIONAL DRIVERS!). The students I've seen are much less concerned that a flat tire or a loose quick release will hurt or strand them. They've got cell phones and bike shops identified. What is more, bike shops often offer means to learn basic mechanics. To draw an analogy, the LAB Traffic 101 course is like a computer course that teaches a bit about component installation and removal while Cycling Savvy focuses on how to boot things up and check your email. Most of the students I've seen, even in Traffic 101, are less concerned with what makes the computer tick than simply USING it. Of course, that might be just a North Texas situation. Which is why I'm not paid millions of bucks annually by either LAB or the Florida Bicycling Association. Go back to the disclaimer at the top of this paragraph.

Preston's Influence
Preston Tyree ruined me. It means I need to find something good and something that could have been better about Cycling Savvy. I'd like to list more of each (and I certainly have LOTS of candidate items), but I'll wait until after the on-bike sessions. For now, one of each.

Preston and Co-conspirators, Figuring Out What We Could Have Done Better
Something Good
The lecture material was strongly developed and presented. As I noted to an anonymous fellow student sitting to my right, (also a Bike League LCI) "you or I could work on PowerPoint for six months and we wouldn't be CLOSE to these charts." At the risk of getting to a second "good" thing, it looked to me that the pitch was standardized, with buttons being clicked to tailor for the locale. Simply put, the charts worked, made preparation simpler for the instructors, and engaged the students with modern multimedia.

Selected Cycling Savvy Chart. Note Familiar Material and Buttons to Customize for Presentation Locale
Something That Could Have Been Better
Well, to be perfectly honest, it seemed like there was an AWFUL LOT of stuff about how to ride around bike lanes. There are no longer any bike lanes within daily riding distance of my house. As in zippity do dah. The main problem that creates for me is I have to explain to non cyclists that no bike lanes really don't make it harder for me to ride to work safely. Even the unmourned loss of the North Tarrant Parkway bike lane was unlike the examples presented in class because there was no parking allowed along the bike lane and it was so wide that motorists used it as an auxiliary passing lane. Suburban North Texas is NOT Orlando, nor even Dallas, but it IS where a lot of students in North Texas will come from, and suburbs are around all the other cities where courses have or will probably be offered. In short, the class occasionally loses its focus on fundamental operation principles. That is hardly a fatal or uncorrectable flaw, though it is notable, considering I was thrashed before I took my first LCI by a correspondent that didn't like the LAB position on bike lanes. Come to think of it, bike lanes are a controversy up there with earphones and helmets and it was integrated so well that it really didn't use a lot of class time, so 'nuff sed!

Many Familar Faces Were at the Class, Including Eliot Landrum in the Photo, Richard Wharton, Chandra (of course)
And an Anonymous LCI that Sat to My Right. And I'm Sure I Forgot to Mention a Few. Chandra and I  Were Two of Three That Came by Bike
The Other was the Gentleman in the Back in the Hawaiian Shirt that Came up from Houston and Rode His Bike from the Hotel
One item brought up in the lectures were those count down lights I posted about, just last week, here. Another was how to trigger traffic lights. Posts here and here, and lots of other places. On the way to the train station to get home, I was mildly concerned about missing the TRE. There were three of those count down signals along the route. One one of the count down signals, I flashed through the intersection just as it hit zero. Hit it! It seemed a fitting end to the evening. And I may have to point Keri to some added secrets about the finer points of video signal camera detection zones. It's the engineer in me. Just as I'm sure John Brooking is capable of improving my ice biking technique.


acline said...

Thanks for your thoughts so far. I'm looking forward to what you have to say about the on-bike portions of CS and the differences/similarities re: Traffic 101.

Steve A said...

I look forward to that as well, and hope there are inexperienced cyclists in our session tomorrow. I know there are differences in the drills, though I fear none of the drills will help me avoid the falls I'm prone to. Black ice is not expected tomorrow and John Brooking has not yet accepted my offer of double tuition if he can teach me to remain reliably upright on same without studded tires!

Warren C. said...

Great analysis. Looking forward to the next installment, and do beware of the ice!

(My friend Jeff, who did Chris / Pondero's gravel road ride last year with us, has a pair of studded tires that I think could be had for a few beers!)

Eliot L said...

Great to finally meet you in person, Steve!

I politely disagree with your "AWFUL LOT of stuff" note. I barely even noticed much talk of bike lanes. There was far more talk about sidewalk riding, which is a huge problem in East Dallas.

It's cool that you have no bike lanes in your area, but as you know (and pointed out) the buzz in the bike world for the past few years has been all about bike lanes so it is not really surprising if the program DID include a lot of discussion about bike lanes. But in reality I think there was maybe about 15 minutes in the 3 hours of discussion.

(Hah, I like your link to my name... that reminds me that I need to revive my personal webspace a bit!)

Steve A said...

Eliot, when I brought it up to Keri on Sunday, she also claimed it as 15 minutes. Personally, I accept that as fact, and also as evidence how time is relative. Even a LITTLE bit of bike lane talk seems like an eternity to one that never deals with them except in theory, or when he goes on trips up to Seattle. I wait through one minute traffic lights with no distress, but sitting behind the makeup lady in Thursday's post seemed MUCH longer, though it really wasn't.

It seemed longer partly because Chipseal gave me a hard time about bike lanes and LAB before I took my LCI.

In fairness, since the subject is afoot, Waco and Keri did an excellent job of sticking to the "here's how to do it" rather than getting into any pro/con. Actually, they treated it the same way I told Chip I would do, so it would be churlish to criticize the way they did it other than it SEEMED like a lot to me. Would you choose something else they could have done better?

Eliot L said...

I decided the part I would like better is less mention of TS101. I don't think most regular people know what in the world it is. I haven't taken it, so it is almost meaningless to me.

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