graphic copyright (C) Andrew B. Singer - used with permission

BikeBedford.org

- A project of Bedford Friends of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway
and the Bedford Bicycle Advisory Committee

this site has been superceded by
the new Bedford Bike webpages
at https://sites.google.com/site/bedfordbike/

BikeBedford.org > Cyclist Education

Education is the most important part of bicycling. By learning correct on-road riding techniques and mastering control of the bicycle, any cyclist will enjoy increased confidence and safety while riding in any traffic conditions.
"Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles"
- John Forester
This is the most important tenet of the body of practice known as "Vehicular Cycling". Also formerly known as Effective Cycling (after the book of the same name by John Forester), it is the basis for a curriculum of practial courses to improve the skills of cyclists, now called BikeEd, promoted and developed by the League of American Bicyclists.
Bicycle Skills courses are periodically offered in the Greater Boston Area. Check http://www.massbike.org/skills/classes.htm or search http://www.massbike.org/ for "Bicycle Skills." For similar courses elsewhere, check the League of American Bicyclists' BikeEd web page ( http://www.bikeleague.org/educenter/education.htm ) for current listings or to contact a local League Cycling Instructor.

How to Ride in Boston Traffic - Or Anywhere by John Allen

How to Ride in Boston Traffic - Or Anywhere is a brief introduction to the essentials of cycling when there may be traffic present.

cover of Bicycling Street Smarts Bicycling Street Smarts by John Allen

Bicycling Street Smarts is a comprehensive tutorial containing essential advice on safe on-road cycling. Topics include lane-positioning, navigating intersections, expert control of brakes and steering, emergency maneuvers, and dealing with difficult situations. Published by Rubel Bike Maps, you may read it on the web or purchase your own copy for $4.95

THE NEW "LEAGUE GUIDE TO SAFE AND ENJOYABLE CYCLING"
The recently published "League Guide to Safe and Enjoyable Cycling" gives entry-level and returning cyclists the knowledge and secrets of road and trail-savvy riders. The book is an introduction to the critical elements of bicycling safety and equipment, written to help cyclists feel safe and confident so they can experience the many joys of bicycling. It covers: purchasing the ideal bike, how bikes and their components work, rules for safe riding on the road and trail, cycling equipment and gear, basic maintenance and repairs, biking to work, improving your health and fitness through cycling, and much more. Get yours today at https://www.bikeleague.org/commerce/guidebook.htm. It will also be available shortly on Amazon.com. "The League Guide to Safe and Enjoyable Cycling" makes a great gift for new cyclists.

Other recent comments by John Allen about cycling in Boston:

Among Boston drivers, there is culture of bluffing. Endless speculation is possible about the origin of this tradition -- the hard feelings between the bluebloods and the Boston Irish?; the confusing road network?; the lack of enforcement of traffic laws?...who knows. But in any case, many drivers test others to see whether the others will yield right of way, rather than automatically being polite and obeying the law. Typical example: the first driver at the red light guns it and turns left, even though this driver is required to yield to through traffic from the opposite direction.

To function in this milieu safely and maintain self-respect, bicyclists also have to be assertive, but the type of assertiveness that works best is assertiveness of one's rights under the traffic law, because this calls the motorist's bluff. In my car, I very frequently have motorists cut left turns in front of me when the light turns green. This rarely happens when I am cycling. Why? Because it is much easier on my bicycle to make it clear that I intend to take my legal right of way, thank you very much. I can position myself assertively, tell when the light is about to change, by looking at the light for the cross street, I can get both feet on the pedals, and I can outbluff the driver without putting myself at risk. To be successfully assertive, a bicyclist must know how to use lane position and hand signals to direct the actions of motorists, and must also have good bike-handling skills including good use of the gears so it is possible to sprint from a stop, and emergency maneuvers which make it possible to keep moving forward and outbluff the motorist who (for example) is inching forward at a stop sign in front of you, testing whether you are the one will stop. The driver will think "As I have the stop sign, if I hit the bicyclist, that's going to cause inconvenience and expense to My Important Self. You win!"

I also take every opportunity to extend courtesy to other road users when they have the right of way -- for example, making enough room on my right so motorists can make legal right turns on red past me. *Just* enough room, so there isn't room to overtake me illegallyon the right and to straight through.

It isn't pretty except for the part about extending courtesy, and it doesn't work for casual bicyclists or children, because it requires skill. But it works just fine for me.

One more important point: I am describing bicycling under urban and suburban conditions. Bicycling on rural roads is quite different, because of the smaller amount of traffic, generally higher speeds and fewer intersections, though the same general principles apply.

John S. Allen (2004-06-11), from http://www.massbike.org/email/archive/

six principles of traffic:
  1. First come, first served. If I get to an intersection first, I get to go first. If you are ahead of me on the road, you don't have to get out of the road just because I want you out. Duh.
  2. Drive on the right. It's an arbitrary rule, but so far as traffic is concerned, it's a commandment.
  3. Faster traffic passes on the left, slower traffic passes on the right, and at all times, adhere to posted speed limits and basic speed rule that requires you to travel no faster than that speed at which you can stop for what is ordinary and expected in the roadway.
  4. When approaching an intersection, move to the part of the lane that best serves your destination, or if a dedicated lane exists for that destination, move into it.
  5. Yield to traffic when entering or crossing lanes, and follow traffic controls that direct yielding (yellow & red lights, yield & stop signs, etc.). In this case, this means that you wait until a sufficiently large gap exists in the lanes you're crossing or entering to permit you to enter them safely. No gap, no move.
  6. When changing lanes in parallel, yield to traffic already in those lanes. In this case, that means that you can only enter those lanes when a gap exists that allows you to change lanes safely. No gap, no move.
- from Tom Revay via Massbike, 2005.01.07



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