Monday, September 24, 2007

Why I Teach

In his book Effective Cycling John Forrester proposes the concept of "Cyclist Inferiority Complex". He asserts that it is responsible for cyclists doing dumb things like weaving in and out of parked cars or riding the wrong way down the street. It causes cyclists to mistakenly assume that cars are attracted to bicycles, and cyclists are safer if they avoid cars at any cost. Unfortunately, "riding as though you were invisible" goes hand in hand with being invisible, and cyclists who avoid cars wind up surprising drivers when they inevitably cross paths (at a driveway, say, or when going around a parked car). Cyclist Inferiority Complex feeds on itself by encouraging unsafe behavior; unsafe behavior begets injuries; injuries beget the feeling that cycling is dangerous.

As has been confirmed time and time again, nobody wants to run into anybody or anything. By making yourself visible and clearly demonstrating where you're headed, you help everybody achieve their goal of not hitting you. Teaching cyclists that they belong in the road with the rest of traffic,and why it's safer and more enjoyable, seems to kill Cyclist Inferiority Complex. As a result, students who pass LAB Road I (the class I call "The Art of Cycling") are safer, more confident, more relaxed, and more predictable on their bikes. And that's why I teach.

The more cyclists we have riding out in the road, acting predictably and responsibly, the better it's going to get for everyone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There certainly is a need for teaching. This morning I counseled a new cyclist several things:

1. How to ride on a sidewalk and not be victim to a rideout crash (i.e., slow down and watch for turning and crossing cars before crossing streets or driveways, expect that motorists will not see you, esp. if you are riding faster than a ped can walk).

2. The need for a helmet, esp. for a new rider.

3. Proper seat height position, as his knees were too bent with the cranks at the six and twelve o'clock positions, thus not getting all the power possible and possibly leading to knee strain.

You go, Neale.