There are many people who like to ride bikes but are uncomfortable making their way across town on streets used by cars; there are others who would ride a bike if they found a way to feel safe in traffic. And even people who ride all the time might feel they could use tips on the best position in a lane of traffic, how to avoid hazards, how to safety-check a bike, etc. For these and similar riders, the FLCC is preparing to offer a series of courses. The core course will be “Traffic Safety 101” — a two-day course for which the basic curriculum is developed by the League of American Bicyclists, which also certifies instructors for its courses. This course used to be offered at Cornell by Lois Chaplin and Sue Powell. Since Cornell has discontinued this program, the FLCC will be picking it up and offering it to club members and the general community. There will be a minimal fee to cover the cost of class materials and incidental expenses (on the order of $25 per person).
TS101 is designed for people who know the basics of riding a bike. In addition, we will offer courses for beginners, people who have ridden very little or not at all; a course on basic bicycle maintenance; and other courses as the need arises and we develop the resources to teach them.
The most important resource that the FLCC has for this endeavor is that Ithaca has an unusually large concentration of League Certified Instructors (LCIs). At least four LCIs are certified and ready to participate in teaching the courses, and several others will probably become available in the near future as certification workshops are held in our area.
The first offering of TS-101 needed to be postponed until later in the 2012 cycling year. Announcements will be posted on the FLCC email list as well as on this website. We expect to have classes held at Island Fitness and Health on Taughannock Blvd. in Ithaca.
The course takes two full days, 9:00 am-5:00 pm with a break for lunch each day. There is a substantial classroom portion, but the bulk of the course consists of being on a bike — demonstrations and drills in a parking lot as well as actually riding in real traffic on real streets.Participants will need to arrive with suitable clothing for the weather, an approved bicycle helmet, and a bicycle in good riding order. If you haven’t used the bike for a long time, please go over it to make sure tires, brakes, shifters, bearings, etc are all in good order and adjustment — or have it done by a bike shop. We will be able to make minor adjustments at the class, but not major adjustments or repairs.
What kind of bike is ok? Any bike in good order will be fine. The best would be a bike that you are comfortable riding. It can be a “10-speed” type multi-gear bike, an “English 3-speed,” a “city bike” or “hybrid.” If you use a mountain bike, it would be better (not necessary) if you switch to smooth tires — it would make it easier to pedal on streets. If it’s in good working order and can pass a safety check, it’s suitable for the course. A “track bike” or bikes without brakes would not be acceptable. Recumbent bikes are not excluded, but it would be better if you could use an upright bike for this course.We’ll be completing our riding in daylight, but if you use your bike after dark, it must also have a headlight and tail light. If you are not sure if your bike is suitable, just get in touch to discuss it.
What kind of clothing is appropriate? While there are many specialized garments made for bicyclists, cycling doesn’t really demand anything special. If you wear clothes that would be comfortable going for a walk, you should be fine riding a bike in them. You’ll need something warm if it’s chilly and something to keep you dry if it’s raining. Gloves are a good idea in any weather as they help cushion the hands on the handlebars and also can protect the hands in case of a crash. Loose trouser legs can catch on the cranks, so it’s a good idea to have some reflective straps with velcro to wrap around your ankles. Normal comfortable shoes are fine on simple pedals. If you become interested in long-distance cycling or other more intensive uses of a bicycle, you’ll want to look into some of the technical apparel; but it isn’t necessary for running errands or taking short trips.