Tag Archive for: bruce lierman

savvy cyclist

The Cyclist’s Dilemma

When I begin bicycle training discussions, I often ask students what word they associate with cycling.

Most commonly, that word is Freedom.

Think back to your childhood. Your bicycle was quite likely the first technology you encountered that significantly expanded your independence. Once you had confidence in your operation and navigation skills, you were free! You could undertake longer excursions, and choose your own path.

You probably also chose how you rode. Absent significant instruction — or even if you had instruction, absent direct supervision — you made your own decisions about how you interacted with other vehicles or roadway users.

Many adult cyclists hold onto beliefs they derived from their early cycling experiences. These include:

  • You can ride a bike if you can balance and steer it
  • Getting from Point A to Point B is a question of navigating a lawless terrain where pragmatism is the first principle
  • The way to be successful on a bike is to capitalize on its form and design — its narrow profile and maneuverability — and to exploit the limitations of cars
  • Bicyclists don’t have to obey laws designed for motorists

Given our early preconceptions, who would see any need for further education in bicycle operation and traffic rules? Who would judge it worthwhile to learn how to adapt their cycling to principles based on traffic rules? As cyclists, must we give up our freedom and act like drivers? Are we really less privileged than pedestrians?