One weekend in the late summer, a group of people gathered in Spokane to talk about how to ride a bike. For some groups, that could be quick chat or an hour of practice. For this group, it was three long summer days. They wanted to know the nuances of how you really ride a bike, how you interact on a road with other vehicles, how you practice handling skills, and how you keep yourself safe. They were not learning for themselves, they were learning to be able to to teach bike riding skills to others. This was a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) training, a class to prepare bike educators in how to teach bicycle safety skills to all ages.
Washington Bikes worked with the League of American Bicyclists to organize the seminar, training 9 community members. We felt there was a lack of LCIs in the Spokane area and wanted to build local capacity to support bicycle advocacy. Prior to this seminar, there were only 4 active LCIs east of the Cascades. Participants came from Spokane, Colville, Richland, Seattle, and Montana. Now there are 10 who will be able to support their local communities.
The focus of the course was to learn how to teach bike safety skills – to understand the ins and outs of traffic rules, the mechanics behind balance, the misconceptions, the common fears, and ways to communicate this material clearly and concisely. How do you demonstrate skills clearly? How do you manage a class on the open road? What is effective language to communicate physical actions? The prospective LCIs had to polish their own skills as well as practice how to communicate, demonstrate, and teach handling skills to others.
The content was not limited to how to handle a bicycle. At one point, late in the evening, the group donned all the lights and reflective material they had to test the visibility of the gear. The group rode out blinking in every color from all over, looking like a scene from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Other bike riders and cars slowed and stared. Is that some UFO or people having a weirdly good time?
LCIs are valuable community assets, nationally recognized as experts in bicycle safety. Their primary role is to provide classes and education to an area in bicycle safety skills. If someone is interested in starting to ride a bike for the first time in years or an experienced bike riders, taking part in a safety course is educational. Courses help you improve your bike handling skills, teach ways to make yourself more visible and safer while riding, and practices ways to avoid an emergency.
Additionally, LCIs may take on activities like advocating to transportation and city officials for safer bike infrastructure, advising programs in developing education or encouragement campaigns, or helping community groups organize a bike event. They are people dedicated to bikes as transportation and working to improve biking for everyone.
You can see all the LCIs in Washington here. Look up if there is an LCI in your community and connect with them. Together we can grow bicycling in Washington.