Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Even old pros can learn cycling savvy

Florida Weekly December 15, 2010

Now, for all the cyclists out there, when you need to travel certain unfriendly key roadways without on-road accommodation or a real multi-use path you’ve got a choice. Your first option is to ride on a narrow, concrete sidewalk that’s populated with pedestrians (who it’s meant for) and obstacles like utility poles and bus benches, as well as the hazards associated with every driveway and side street. Option two is to allow yourself to be part of traffic on a very busy highway. Not surprisingly, some of the most confident, experienced cyclists frequently choose the sidewalk option if an alternative route isn’t available, especially if it’s for only a short distance. Admittedly, I’m guilty of such behavior, even with the knowledge that the possibility of a crash, fall or other mishap is much greater on the sidewalk than on the road. That’s a fact most people have trouble believing. But my use of the sidewalk will become even less frequent now that I’ve taken an urban cycling course.

I’ve been involved in cycling education for more than two decades, teaching everyone from children to adult cyclists to physical education teachers and community educators. But even after all those years of experience I found the newly developed course called “Cycling Savvy” to be like no other class I’ve taken or taught.

Here’s how the course is described on Cycling Savvy's website: “Cycling Savvy is a traffic cycling course developed for the Florida Bicycle Association. The course teaches the principles of mindful bicycling: empowerment to act as confident, equal road users; strategies for safe, stress-free integrated cycling; and tools to read and problem-solve any traffic situation or road configuration.”

The website description goes on to say: “Even most confident cyclists prefer to use quiet routes when feasible. In many cases, it’s only an intimidating intersection or short stretch of busy road which hinders a cyclist’s preferred route. This course is designed to show students simple strategies to eliminate such barriers, and ride with ease and confidence in places they might never have thought possible.”

Indeed, three of the eight who completed the class with me were “returning” cyclists or had minimal recent experience, yet, to an individual, we were very comfortable riding solo in a variety of downtown Orlando traffic situations by the time we hit the roads. And our rides included a number of passes through major intersections and I-4 interchanges. Clearly, the approach Cycling Savvy uses works in ways all other courses I’ve taken or teach fail to do. That being the case, I’ll soon become certified to teach Cycling Savvy and will be offering classes throughout our area. Contact me or check out the website for upcoming opportunities.

Important event

Whether you’re a runner or not, come on out to Fort Myers High School this Saturday morning to support FMHS Cross Country Coach Yancey Palmer and his family. A 5K walk/run is being conducted to benefit the Palmers, whose home burned recently. Call 823-0174 for details.

Advocacy update

What should be a no-brainer — adding 4-foot shoulders/bike lanes on Bonita’s Hickory Boulevard — has become controversial, thanks to resistance from the city of Bonita Springs’ city manager as well as some Hickory Boulevard residents who would be impacted (and who would directly benefit) from this improvement.

Although Hickory Boulevard is a county road, Lee Department of Transportation and our commissioners take input from residents and the municipality involved in matters like this, a policy that makes sense. Nevertheless, some residents who forget that the roads belong to everyone are opposed to the common-sense project. For more on this matter, check out the BikeWalkLee blog post. 
— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and a former bike/ped coordinator who cycles regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He may be contacted at or 334-6417.

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