Sunday, March 4

Help Wanted

Since the middle of 2009, I made 723 posts on this blog, not including this one. I made a number more on "Cycle*Dallas" before that. The majority of these posts had significant cycling educational information. Heck, a couple were actually from material I collected for LCI Seminar teaching. It was not, however, done in accordance with a plan to accumulate a comprehensive story. Mostly, it tended to apply this writer's experiences in a way that others in the same situation could see an apply useful elements to themselves. As I've noted many times, I am NOT a cycling advocate. Mostly, it was cycling education from the perspective of a commute transportation cyclist. I freely confess that group riding is not something I'm particularly expert about. Well, that's actually putting a positive spin on my group riding skills. I ride well enough in a group that I haven't gotten hurt doing it.

Lately, however, and prompted partly by some developments within the Bike League, it seems to me that this information, along with complementary information on like-minded blogs could be organized and structured an "a la carte" approach to bike education. We just have to figure out how. It probably means we also have to import bits, such as some existing LAB course elements.

And those thoughts have not gone away.

Here are a few of the notions:
  • First, it is a lot more than just a blog. That makes me glad I used to keep a couple of pretty good car club web sites and do JavaScript. But that also taught me that websites work better with collaborators.
  • Second, this will need expert help. As in current and former LCI people to help keep the focus on sound bike education principles and not digress into campaigns for or against facilities or government programs. Political Bike Ed is corrupt Bike Ed.
  • What's more, expert help should not be limited only to those, such as myself, that have spent more time learning to ride their bikes well than most motorists ever do in learning how to drive well. Help from those sensing learning needs are, perhaps, most valuable of all. On thing I have criticized in the LAB courses is that their tests are not the best use of student or instructor time. Certainly, none of the written tests I took ever helped me in any tangible way. However, some self test can be very valuable, particularly in an a la carte program such as described. And people with uneven knowledge can help make this work. Unfortunately, ignorant test subjects quickly lose their values as "people that don't know any better." I guess there are worse problems.
  • Part of this should include information for the aspiring cyclist about equipment and maintenance. But this is not a "how to overhaul that bottom bracket and replace cartridge bearings" site. My study on Simple Green would be mentioned no more than in passing.
Simple Green Does NOT Eat Aluminum
I am thinking that this would not tell people where to go for charity rides or races, or about rides across the country. It might, on the other hand, flag upcoming educational opportunities. I don't know. I haven't thought it through that far.

First off, I need to dig up a descriptive URL and a few initial team consultants. If you have gone to one of those URL domain name search sites and come up with one. Leave a comment below, or if it is a REAL gem that should not be revealed to the world before I can get it registered, email it to me. Pretty soon, we'll have to figure out how to resolve the different directions people will want to go.

I think, however, I need help and advice. I'm reminded of innumerable movies in which the recruiter says "I need people to go on a tough mission with no glory and no pay." The ones I'm looking for are the ones that respond to that pitch with "Sounds good, count me in!"

For those that don't realize it, my email is connected to my profile and is

 steve dot a dot dfwptp at gmail dot com
When the new site gets up and running, we'll have emails connected to that. Yours, for example might be
If you doubt the need for this, think about it the next time you see a wrong-way cyclist headed directly towards you while you are in a bike lane on a busy road. While you are at it, think about how will we reach such people?
Well, that's enough for the moment. I've got a swap meet to go to and you can expect updates of this post over the coming week. To add a little element of humor I like to put in my posts, much as are those Mormons lining up at Rantwick's door, we shall be on a mission. White shirt and tie are not required for this mission, however.
Oh, and by the way, it probably is a good idea for those (well, I'm pretty sure it'll be plural) that want to help, to let me know up front if you want your contributions to remain hidden from the world for some reason. After all, even I recognize that advocates can be cyclists as well and, in fact, I actually know some.


cafiend said...

The way to reach a wrong-way cyclist is a quick swat in the face with a used toilet brush.

Any web-based initiative only reaches people on the web. A large proportion of the undisciplined riding public is probably not reachable by that medium.

Can bicycling education remain entirely apolitical? Every variation in the menu of solutions seems to have been taken up as a complete solution by one group or another and championed as the One True Faith. Look no further than the helmet debate for an example, Or the sidepath debate.

The effort is still worthwhile, even if it just helps you crystallize your own concepts. It still seems a trifle nebulous unless you just plan to paraphrase and repackage League educational content to try to increase adherence to it.

I derived my own riding principles over years and miles including racing, touring, commuting, reading and sharing information with other riders. Much of it corresponds to "official" methodology. My labeling system on the blog is supposed to help readers search by category somewhat more easily.

I'm being called to supper now and you don't piss off the cook. I will keep checking in to see how things are evolving.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I've had some teachable moments that could have actually been teachable moments if I had a handout--a couple of times at stop lights where a roadie seemed incredulous that a commuter would know something about activating stoplights that he didn't, while he fussed around doing ineffectual things off to the side. A handout on loops, or VIDS if it was a VIDS light, would have shushed him right up, and possibly taught him about them. Locking up with proper locks is another handout-worthy example. Salmoning? Riding at night without lights? Riding the wrong way, against traffic? Running lights? These are some of the situations that I wish we had a way, other than a launchable net trap I mean, to educate in the moment. I mention these as just a start, to see if any of this is similar to what you might have in mind. It could be more about brainstorming, coming up with solutions that might work, and coordinating multi-state (multi-country!!) efforts to try them out to see what works and what does not.

cafiend said...

I do think it's safe to say that people don't want to be tested, they just want to be taught. The real test is in practice out on the road, trail or other riding venue of choice. So JRA's idea of handouts you could share with someone on the spot makes a ton of sense and is actually one of the best approaches I've heard. Don't come on all weird like a religious person pushing salvation in a pamphlet, just say, "here's some helpful info to make your riding more fun."

Bicycling Magazine had some flyers like that in the 1990s. You have to be careful with the wording to avoid becoming political, but short, simple articles on a single sheet could cover a lot of things.

For the wrong-way cyclist I'm afraid the toilet brush is the only way to get their attention. That or a nasty, well-used wet mop.

Steve A said...

Handouts. One page. Bike shops. Other stores. Cool, and a URL to find out more. Hmm!

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