When I first started biking I didn’t know what I was doing. But I knew I was having fun. Yes, loads of fun, until…
Yes, the unsolicited advice from strangers started coming. Of course some of it was useful advice. But no matter what it was also condescending. I wished they would be quiet and let me enjoy my ride. If I wanted bike help I could turn to my bike shop or the internet. I decided then to never give advice on the road.
Now with years of experience I have tons of tips I want to share too. When I bike in spring my inner monologue goes something like this:
And when I see the newbie swerve I have to wonder:
But I just keep quiet and let everyone enjoy their ride and hope they keep riding… and maybe someday giving advice to others.
The urge to share “unwanted advice” is a sure sign that most of the knowledge of how to cycle in an urban environment is anecdotal in nature and not the result of formal training. We have decided to treat cycling the way we do many things like the “birds and bees” discussions that took place long before it was a formal part of the curriculum in virtually every high school in the country.
The reason this is still in an antiquated format is because we seem to want to avoid having formal training because it deem it an intrusion on our freedom to remain ignorant. We need to get back to a vibrant and relevant Vehicular Cycling training environment. Many cyclists are simply ignorant of “best practices” and frankly the Rules of the Road in their area.
Newbies watch the behaviors of more experienced riders and mimic them. Eventually bad practices are ingrained in the culture and it is difficult at this point to make corrections. The best place to get training would be from the same group that teaches drivers to drive. There should be a formal test much as one has en route to obtaining a driving license.
In short we cyclists need to stop treating bikes as if they were “toys” and use them intelligently and with knowledge of simple things like how to dress to be seen. How to handle the bike in difficult weather conditions. How to judge that our bikes are roadworthy and much more.