First CyclingSavvy Class Debriefing

The first CyclingSavvy class in Springfield was a success.

I define success this way: We had students! :-) We had five! Two were members of my family. One other was known to me. And two signed up after having seen the announcement on Facebook.

It’s tough to fill bicycling classes for a number of reasons. So I’m good with this result. It’s a start. And my hearty thanks to Karen Karabell for coming to Springfield from St. Louis to help me teach the class!

CyclingSavvy is taught in three parts:

  1. Truth and Techniques classroom session
  2. Train Your Bicycle parking lot session
  3. Tour of (fill in name of city) road session

The pedagogy of the entire course — especially the classroom session — is well thought out and conforms to current theory in adult (including university) education. In other words, CyclingSavvy was not just slapped together by bicycling enthusiasts who think they know how to teach because they know how to ride. It was planned by bicycling enthusiasts who bothered to learn how to teach before creating the curriculum.

Train Your Bike and the Tour have some similarities to the League of American Bicyclists education program. There’s been plenty written about the differences by people who have taken both courses (including instructor training) and know what they’re talking about (e.g. here and here). Gail Spann, chair of the LAB education committee, recently took a CS course in Dallas.

I have written before about one of the most striking things about the program — the Tour. For me, the Tour is the thing (but everything leading up to the thing is really important to getting the thing). It’s where the rubber meets the road. And I have seen the results in increasing confidence. When last I wrote about the class, I published this photo of the diverging diamond.

Does that scare you?

Fact: It was the easiest intersection the class drove on Saturday. Why? Because that beastly-looking thing is actually designed to slow traffic but keep a steady flow. No lane-change passing is allowed. A person in reasonably good shape can drive it at very near the same speed as motorists. No impeding traffic. No honks. Just a smooth ride. Another key to the success of this intersection: It’s confusing (a good thing) — so motorists use maximum care.

More difficult intersections we traversed on Saturday included National and Grand and National and St. Louis — where crossing traffic is heavy and speeds are high because the sight-lines are long and the right turns have been rounded.

I sent my daughter through the diverging diamond. I’m a normal dad with a normal dad’s love for a daughter. I would never send her into danger. I was not sending her into danger by sending her into the diamond. I was doing what dads are supposed to do for daughters: Help her discover her confidence for herself.

Among the many gratifying moments of my entire teaching career (I was the last through the diamond) was to see smiling faces on the other side.

Using my daughter's bicycle (yes, she needs a new one badly), I demonstrate gripping power. See those knobby tires? I can't get as low as I can with my bicycle. I would have used mine for the demonstration except that it was loaded down with stuff I needed to carry for the tour.

Gettin' down with the snap turn :-)

Karen Karabell, CSI St. Louis, chalks a diagram to explain the intersection at National and St. Louis. Students made a right off Walnut and commanded the left lane to St. Louis then made a left turn.

If you learn to time the platoons of cars, you can often navigate large intersections with nary a car in sight.

On a humorous note, we had a few snafus on the tour. We finished the drills a little early. So we finished lunch a little early. So we started the Tour a little early. And that put us smack in the middle of a traffic jam on Grand. First MSU home football game.

Later, we had to change our route through downtown because of the Oktoberfest and Taste of Springfield. The place was packed.

And we had no idea that there was a hot rod and antique car show at the fairgrounds. The place was crawling with Detroit muscle after we came off the diverging diamond.

I’m going to fire my advance people :-)

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Comments 3

  1. Keri wrote:

    Nice report! Congratulations!

    Posted 04 Oct 2011 at 5:57 pm
  2. Robert wrote:

    Im a Mo State Bears fan, so I mean no disrespect. However, a traffic jam bc of a Bears Football game……..HA!!!!!!

    Congrats on the class!!

    Posted 04 Oct 2011 at 6:02 pm
  3. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… Seriously. I could not believe it. The team is soooo bad, yet the place was packed — Grand anyway :-)

    Keri… Thanks! More to come :-)

    Posted 05 Oct 2011 at 7:43 am