Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In May 2012 local cycling advocacy group Think Bicycles of Johnson Co. devised the Light the Night partnership to encourage all cyclists to start using lights on their bicycles at night. Think Bicycles recruited University of Iowa Public Safety and the Iowa City Police Department as partners in their effort.
Under program, cyclists who receive a citation for failing to equip their bike with a front white light and/or rear red reflector/light, now have the choice to participate in Light the Night. When a police offer tickets a cyclist for riding at night without lights they are given a choice. The cyclist can pay the 93.75-dollar fine, or they may elect to buy and install bike lights.
Results of a 2012 Iowa City Bike Master Plan online survey reveal that cyclists’ main concern is law enforcement. Of the 306 people who took the survey, 112 of them said that enforcing headlight/reflector laws during non-daylight hours was most the important.
“I’m a cyclist and driver,” comments Martha Norbeck, local bike advocate and Think Bicycles member. “It’s simple, lights allow you to see and be seen by motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists. We want to foster a positive bike culture where people can ride, walk and drive with safety and confidence.” In addition to being highly visible, lights are required by law.
To date the Iowa City Police have written 31 citations, while the University of Iowa Public Safety has not written a single ticket. Twenty-eight bicyclists cited by ICPD elected to participate in the Light the Night Program, thus having their $93.75 fine waived.
“It’s unsafe for cyclist not to have lights. We don’t allow cars to not have lights. It’s not like you have to pay the ticket anyway. It’s a safe win-win situation.” Said Mark Pooley, President of the University of Iowa Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Regular cyclist: “LCI? What’s that?”

LCI: “It stand for League Cycling Instructor.”

Regular cyclists: “Uhh, what? If you think you’re going to teach me bicycle safety, forget it lady! I already know how to ride a bike.”

Lots of people ride bicycle to get around this very bikeable city. But do they know how to drive a bike? How many times have you seen these folks who already know how to ride a bike put themselves in some pretty dodgy situations. Not to mention the hazardous situations they put others in- bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. Maybe no one ever explained to them the right and responsibilities as a bicyclists. It’s pretty simple: bicyclists should act and be treated as drivers of vehicles. 

The League of American Bicyclists is recognized across the U.S., and is best known for their Bicycle Friendly America Program, providing assistance, incentives, and recognition for communities, universities, and businesses that actively support bicycling. Iowa City currently holds strong at Bronze, while the University applied this year for the first time and recently was awarded honorable mention.
The League of American Bicyclists has created a curriculum to teach knowledgeable and experienced cyclists how to teach safe cycling to others- so that more people can learn to drive their bikes and enjoy bicycling to the max! Sound nerdy? Well, yes- it is! And that’s coming from someone who took the seminar this past weekend, but no more than any of the subjects or hobbies we obsess over. One day I’m going to come up with the million dollar idea of how to make bicycle education for adults cool. 
The Iowa City Bike Library hosted the LCI Training Seminar this past weekend where nine people, most from the Iowa City community, became certified bicycle educators. 

Being the experience bicyclists I am, or think of myself as, I was a bit reluctant to go through the 35+ hour training. However, once I became little less obstinate, I became aware of what could be accomplished in extending ourselves a safe cycling resource to one’s community. Many people who want to ride don’t because they’re concerned for their safety or they’re concerned for their kids safety. LCIs can help fix that by teaching safe cycling skills. That means more people on bikes!

Why is safe cycling important? So more motorists stop hatin’ on bikers! And furthermore, to prevent accidents. Basically, the more confident one is riding on the road, the safer and more predictable they are in traffic, keeping motorists happy, and maybe even obliged to share the less congested road.

So perhaps you follow the rules and are confident riding in traffic. Good for you! You’re part of the one percent of the population that is strong and fearless on the bike. Maybe a bicycle safety class isn’t your thing, and that’s fine. Unless of course you’re interested in teaching others- kids, older folks who haven’t been on a bike in years, maybe even your compadres!

If you’re like most people though, you might be interested in biking around town in traffic, but concerned. These classes offered by LCIs aim to give you skills need to build confidence, and then once comfortable in your abilities, go out and conquer the world on a bike! Or maybe just the town. Either way it’s joyous.

You or someone you know interested in taking a Smart Cycling class? Email: thinkbicycles@gmail.com