I am a proud savvy cyclist…and I have a confession.
I took CyclingSavvy twice, first in Philadelphia and then Charlotte.
You might ask: Didn’t I learn anything the first time?
I learned an incredible amount about training my bike and how to ride comfortably and confidently with traffic. But some things don’t sink in until later or, in my case, the second time around.
In Philly, I learned from Karen Karabell that there’s nothing scary about empty pavement behind you. How do you get “scary” roads to yourself? You make the lights and the law work for you.
A great example is choosing where you enter a road from. Use traffic lights to your advantage by turning right on green. You have no obligation to turn right on red.
By turning right on green, motorists on the road you’re turning onto are stopped at a red light. When they finally get a green, they’ll be far enough back to use one of the adjacent travel lanes to pass you, in whichever lane you’re not in.
Strategy, Courtesy and Mindfulness
We practiced the right-on-green technique in Charlotte, too. Before I tell you what happened, you need to know that the on-road Tour is like nothing you’ve ever done before.
You’ll be riding on roads you can’t believe you’re using — and you’ll be doing it by yourself, unless you don’t want to. Then an instructor will ride with you. But by the time you get to that point in the workshop, almost everyone wants to try on their own.
A Savvy Cyclist Can Go Anywhere
As a savvy cyclist, I’m not a road warrior. Just the opposite!
CyclingSavvy instructors teach strategy, courtesy and mindfulness. They figure you’re probably OK riding on your neighborhood cul de sac, or on a trail. What they want is to show you how to make connections, so that you can ride out of your neighborhood, or not have to put your bike on a car to go to the trail.
When Motorists Want to Turn Right on Red
In Charlotte, we watched each student set off to practice right-on-green. It was a busy road and motorists would appear behind them. John Allen instructed the students to move to the left side of the lane and wave the motorists to pass on their right.The motorists passed and made the right on red. When the light turned green, the student doing the feature would turn right.
The result was obvious: No cars on the big “scary” road behind the student. By turning right on green, motorists on that road were held back by a red light.
After making the turn, we were instructed to go directly into the lane we wanted. Motorists turning right on green with us could choose another lane and pass us easily.
Epiphany In Charlotte
Instructor Pamela Murray shook my thinking about shoulder checks.
I use a helmet mirror, so some shoulder checks seemed unnecessary in my mind. Before taking CyclingSavvy in Charlotte, I only did shoulder checks when making lateral movements.
When I merged or turned, I’d do a shoulder check, signal, and shoulder check again to make sure it’s safe. Otherwise, I just used my mirror and then communicated with hand signals like “slow,” or “pass” when it was safe to pass me.
What this does, though, is make it seem like the motorist is communicating with just an inanimate piece of metal.
A Fellow Human
When you turn your head over your shoulder, you’re showing your face to the person behind you and making yourself recognized as another human being, not just a bike.
As a result of seeing your face, they’ll be more apt to take direction from you. People like to help other people out.
I’m grateful for the incredible, knowledgeable CyclingSavvy instructors who’ve helped change my street game into a savvy cyclist dance.