I have operated my bicycle essentially as a driver since 1978, when I read an early edition of John Forester’s book Effective Cycling. Since 1982, I’ve been an Effective Cycling Instructor, then League Cycling Instructor, in the League of American Bicyclists educational program, which got its start with Forester’s work.
In the 1980s, Forester’s instruction about road use was state-of-the-art. Over the years, there have been changes to teaching techniques and content, some for the better and some for the worse, some from inside the League’s program and some by individual instructors, but I think that it is fair to say that there has been no systematic revision and upgrade to the content about bicycle driving.
On the weekend of March 3-5, 2017, I took instructor training in a different program, CyclingSavvy, in Orlando, Florida.
CyclingSavvy is a program of the American Bicycling Education Association, with an emphasis on urban cycling. In my opinion, CyclingSavvy classes are more focused and effective than the classes in the League of American Bicyclists program.
A CyclingSavvy class can be difficult for long-time League Cycling Instructors, in part because we have, well, ingrained ways of doing things. I took a CyclingSavvy class in August, 2011, in Portland, Maine. It was a bit of a rough experience. There were misunderstandings, especially on a group ride before the class: about lane use — at one point I asked “what are we doing this for?” and about the purpose of the ride. (My video camera setup is important enough to delay the ride start?) I came off that class with a lukewarm endorsement at best to work toward being an instructor.
In the years since then, I’ve been privileged to develop a closer relationship with CyclingSavvy, by reading materials online, attending two conferences and working on a CyclingSavvy edition of my Bicycling Street Smarts booklet (still awaiting publication as of this writing).
I’ve learned quite a number of things from CyclingSavvy that were new to me. To name some:
- more assertive lane positioning;
- group lane changes from the rear;
- how to instruct novice cyclists so they will ride as an organized group;
- waiting for the green light to turn right, so as to turn onto an empty street;
- Turning into the destination lane for a left turn immediately on turning right;
- plotting strategies for lane use with Google Maps;
- teaching techniques effective in effecting behavior change;
- time management when teaching.
I got a solid recommendation to go for CyclingSavvy instructor training last October — studied up — it’s demanding! — and took the training, March 3-5.
At one time during the parking lot session of the training, I said: “I’m humbled with what I’ve learned that’s above and beyond what I already knew.”
Which is true.
Trainer Lisa Walker then came over to me and gave me a hug.
I’ve been asked to describe what led to the hug. And this has been my explanation.
The takeaway from my experiences: I recommend that League Cycling Instructors, especially long-time ones, take special care to familiarize themselves with the differences between their practices and those of the CyclingSavvy program. That study can be illuminating, and can make the difference between failure and success in the CyclingSavvy program. You might get a hug too!