This spring the League of American Bicyclists produced a 2012 Bicycle Friendly America Guide: True Life Stories and Real World Tools Guide. One of the chapters focuses on bicycle education featuring communities that have implemented Bike Safety Classes. Stanford University found a creative solution to reaching and educating adults offering: “Bike Safety Classes every month that are available to the community and also serve as a Bike Citation Diversion Class whereby bicyclist that are cited for not obeying the laws have the one time option to take a class in lieu of paying a fine.”(More info: pg 14-17)
People who are new to riding often ask, “Where can I go to learn how to ride?” Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum. We’ve all seen them. Just the other day I saw a guy biking the wrong way down a one-way on Dodge St. “Come on man! This is my day off,” I thought. Not that it’s place to tell people what to do, but I can’t help but thinking of how I would kindly word my concern for their safety and others. And what about the person riding on the sidewalk, through numerous intersections, alongside a street lined with sharrows? “Sharrows? What are sharrows?” Sometimes people who use a bicycle for transportation, don’t necessarily know the rules or their responsibility as a cyclist. As experienced riders sometimes we forget that there are people who don’t know how to shift gears so going up IC hills seems unbearable. “Screw this, I’ll just drive”. The list goes on.
Were missing a key component in our bicycle friendly community: Bicycle Education. Sixty-percent of people are “interested but concerned” about biking for transportation and thus choose to drive. There is no program in place that will give them real life experience and one-on-one guidance. Being a responsible bicyclist is no something you can just Google.
Iowa City announced last week the “Light the Night” program whereby bicyclists cited for not having lights on their bike at night have the option to buy and install lights in lieu of paying the fine. The next step would be to implement something similar to what Stanford does. So, where do we start?
Currently we are in the process of setting up a League Certified Instructors Seminar with the goal building a strong group of 10-15 people from the community, university, and City that can teach Safe Cycling courses. These would be experienced bicyclists that have a desire to teach bicycle education. If you are one of these people or you know someone who is, please contact me.
If you are a bike-friendly business and would like to get involved, there are ways to help! We are putting together a scholarship fund for people who want to take the League Certified Instructors Training Course. We don’t want people willing to teach and help make Iowa City a safer place to ride to deterred because of the $300 fee. Please contact me for more info.