Sep 21, 2011

Traffic Skills 101 = Success

Through a fortuitous series of circumstances, I had the chance to assist on a Traffic Skills 101 course this past weekend. I had volunteered to assist on another TS-101 course in Rochester that ended up getting canceled, so this was my first real TS-101.

Luckily, I was able to assist an experienced LCI with this course, so I had some technical back-stopping, but that said, I was given a lot of responsibility in delivering the information and running the class, which was both challenging and rewarding.

The Smart Cycling program, which forms the basis of TS-101 and the other courses, makes inherent sense to me. Any fool can understand that:
  • Bikes are vehicles - they are on the road and should behave like other vehicles. Equal rights, equal responsibilities.
  • Accordingly, we obey the laws and ride on the right side of the street, signal turns, DO NOT RUN RED LIGHTS OR STOP SIGNS and generally fit in with traffic, because we are traffic. Doing anything less is equivalent to tempting the Fates, and if you are not injured or worse you could get a ticket. Karma's a bitch, but we earn your consequences in these sorts of situations (at least most of the time).
  • We are responsible for our actions - not just how we ride, but how we react to others, and how we model our behavior. With credentials this pressure just increases - God forbid that I ever run a stop sign in my League Cycling Instructor jersey.  
  • We all need to get along - a cyclist that rides predictably, signals turns and obeys the law is not noticed by motorists (unfortunately) because they didn't cause a problem. It's the one's that run the lights, swerve and don't signal, or otherwise ignore the rules that lead to the anti-bike comments in any newspaper article dealing with a bicycle accident or advocacy issue
  • One bad apple spoils the lot - it only takes a few riders with bad habits to alienate a boat-load of drivers and make things difficult for all of us.
As an urban commuter, I applied most (or maybe all) of these principles before I ever took the TS-101 course or achieved LCI credentials, but Smart Cycling "put it all together" for me in a way that is based in research and applicable to real-world situations.

The most rewarding (and stressful) part of the course was supervising the class during the on-road test. The student group group got split up at a stop sign - the first three students were able to cross, but the fourth student decided that an approaching car on the crossing street was close enough to warrant yielding to them. This was a coin-toss situation; she could have made it safely across the road with ease, but that might have caused the driver to tap the brakes, to. As it was, the student opted to yield and wait. We were rewarded with a smile and wave from the driver.

I am absolutely thrilled that we made a motorist smile and wave at a group of cyclists that day, and we were able to pass all of the students, many of whom will be going on to get LCI credentials.

High Five!

No comments:

Post a Comment