Monday, September 5

Into the Breach AGAIN With Bike School

My First Bike Ed Course That Actually Happened. Richard and Dorothy, In Front of the Ginger House
My loyal reader may have noticed that I advocate that a cyclist wishing to ride from "Point to Point" should educate him or herself about the safest way to do so. Regardless of whether one is a fan of particular cycling facilities,or an opponent of same, it only makes sense to know how best to traverse the territory you have to cross. Or so I would suggest. My loyal reader may also have observed that I slip handy little snippets about how to ride safely in various situations and how to deal with the problems that cyclists face. Finally, I DO believe that bike school has things to offer pretty much any cyclist, regardless of age or experience, in the search for being able to confidently ride just a smidge safer than before, watching what other experienced cyclists suggest, I've made posts about bike school I've attended in the past, specifically here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I probably missed a few links, but you also probably get the general trend: it's about 5% of my posts. As I stated, a significant part of the reason was outlined here. Quite simply, the Bike League was, and remains, the only national organization that takes bike education seriously. THAT should not be lightly discarded.

Even Before My First Bike Ed Link, I Tried to Take a Course. The Instructor Didn't Show.
Thank GOD for Forester's Book. It Saved Me.
Changing of the Wind
However, just as our near-record breaking Texas summer has yielded, at least for the moment, to a wind shift, bike education in the US is undergoing change. The long-time Bike League education director, Preston Tyree, has elected to take advantage of a well-deserved retirement while he's still fit enough to enjoy it. The new director, Alissa Simcox, has good education credentials, but we have yet to see how she will perform as the new Education Director. Gail Spann, the League Director with Education as part and parcel of her charter,  remains a constant throughout this. Personally, I think Gail's got good mojo, but there's a lot in front of us. What's more, Gail is a Texan and that counts for something.. But there may be another choice arising, and quite simply, I want to see what it really offers beyond "another choice." You see, next weekend, there will be a Cycling Savvy course offered in the DFW Metroplex, and I will be there. I think Chandra will be there as well. At least one of the teachers, called "CSIs," is Waco Moore. Waco took his Bike League LCI Seminar with Chandra and myself, so at one level this will be a reunion of sorts. What's more, Waco is only one of two in my LCI Seminar to become a "CSI." I've seen Waco ride and he's solid. He also sat beside PM Summer and myself at the Reckless Driving trial of Chipseal just about a year ago. On the other hand, this is a course offered under the umbrella of the Florida Bicycle Association. In Texas? In the words of Keri Caffrey; "WTF?"

Which Witch?
If There is to be a War, Let it Begin Here
So, why am I taking YET ANOTHER Bike Ed course? It costs $75 and the links above suggest this might simply be more "good money after bad." Assuming I like things, I'll have to dump even more money to become a "CSI." This is entirely on top of what it cost to become a League Cycling Instructor. Well, put simply, I'm curious, and I'm fortunate enough that the bucks are not an overwhelming consideration. The Cycling Savvy course pitches itself as an "all new" approach to cycling education. It uses the same riding principles I follow on a daily basis and, admittedly, uses the same operation principles as in Traffic 101 of the Bike League, but it strips away the "fluff" and the "hot button terms" in favor of focusing on behavior-changing instruction. For example, it eliminates the mechanical repair aspects of Traffic 101, noting that these can be easily obtained from LBS courses. It also eliminates the "test" that is part of Traffic 101, noting this offers no value to the student (duh!). As a result, there is more time to focus on "how to ride confidently and safely." Quite frankly, I can't argue with the premise of focusing on what the students really NEED and can't get elsewhere.. A course, modified and reduced from what John Forester originally came up with, might well be an improvement. After all, it's been over 30 years since Effective Cycling.

But, there is also a darker side. Or a brighter side. I'm not really sure which it is. Certainly there is change afoot. You see, Cycling Savvy is also a course that might offer "another choice." While the course was created by Bike League LCIs, and some of the instructors REMAIN LCIs, there is a definite "anti-Bike League" element to the whole thing. Both of the principals have publicly withdrawn from the Bike League. Others that support or publicize the course have either withdrawn from the Bike League or align themselves with "dissidents." Go to "LABreform" for details. I found it peculiar that Preston asked me if I was a member of LABreform; an odd question for a new LAB member. Some of the remaining members were those that tried to run for LAB directorships, but were rebuffed. Myself, I've heard their stories, but the Bike League has never indicated why it acted the way it did.

Preston Tyree: Recently Retired Bike League Education Director
Still, as Preston was clear to tell us in our LCI course last January, the principles of operating a bicycle safely in traffic are what fundamentally matter. He told us that the League insurance would cover courses such as Cycling Savvy, since they do not conflict with safe operation principles. Two of my fellow LCI seminar students are now CSIs. Stay tuned, and I would appreciate advice about what I ought to keep my eyes open to see.

Past Comparisons Back in the day, the UK Jaguar Club split into two factions. The first was the old-line "Jaguar Driver's Club." The second was the "Jaguar Enthusiast Club." I'm not sure the Jaguar owners are really better off than if they'd have found a way to work together. Jaguar Cars supports both, since both support Jaguar. OTOH, I imagine Jaguar would prefer a simpler situation. In the USA, a decade later,  the JCNA managed to avoid a split, precipitated by conflict over directors that were not elected. My take? We're better united than divided. OTOH, we in the US have spit asunder on principles before. What way for cycling? We shall see. If y'all are so inclined, let me know what I should keep my eyes open for. Let Chandra do the same. Personally, I pray that cycling people will find a way to come together. If not, I pray that God will grant me, and others,  the wisdom to choose wisely.

One of My Cycling Shirts - FROM FLORIDA. Robert (of Carbon Trace)Would be PROUD!

I Pray Cyclists Will Avoid Division the Way That UK Jaguar Owners Have Seen
Stay Tuned for Further Developments:
Steve A,
LCI # 3054


Chandra said...

Sometimes, division is NOT such a bad thing. Acrimony is worse.

Having said that, I will have to experience CS to see what it is all about.

As it is for you, for me the bottom line is: I want to be safe.

Peace :)

Ed W said...

Steve, if you get much more bike edjamacation, your head could explode!

Enjoy the class. I'd love to attend one, but the logistics just don't work out.

Warren C. said...

Will be very interested, Steve, in what you and Chandra come away from the course with. Please let me know!

I have absolutely no time to do anything other than work right now. I work for myself and this economy is not the best I have ever seen!

Depending on what you guys think, I may try to take it at a later date.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I'm interested to hear what you find useful in this course. Also if the presentation of the material is engaging and helpful.

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