Creating a culture of cycling safety
Whether inspired by lowering our carbon footprint, saving gas money and vehicle maintenance, or improving our mental and physical health, bicycle commuting is rapidly on the rise. Short-distance commuters can easily gain some necessary skills and confidence by; inspecting/repairing their bicycle, selecting clothing appropriate for weather conditions, and spending a couple of hours on an off-work day to select a route and make a practice ride to work and back. Seeking out acquaintances with commuter experience can be very helpful to get started. For cyclists with longer distances to commute, I recommend joining a bicycle club and participating in training classes.
Establishing a culture of cycling safety is central to the mission statement of Central Indiana Bicycling Association (CIBA). Such a culture requires a collective effort. CIBA intends to promote a renewed discussion with the recreational cycling community at large to advance safety and improve the cycling experience.
Most negative incidents are attributed to human error, frequently occurring within a brief lapse of attention at the appropriate level of engagement. Cycling is an activity that can be solitary or shared with many others. The mantra of individual responsibility and awareness applies not only to you, on your bike, but also to the entire social context of cycling. Calls to raise the individual’s awareness are a constant factor from cycling clubs, event management organizers, safety instructors, ride leaders, and many participants in open-group riding.
The cycling community is comprised of many subcultures knitted together by a love of bicycles, the freedom they provide and the healthy lifestyle they support. Our tribes also bond through bike clubs, bike shops, charter tours, and advocacy affiliations. Some of these tribes are known for their technical expertise, great trips, or safe operation. Others are tagged for aggression, cockiness, or exclusivity. If you cycle long enough you will find that many people drift in and out, switch sides and change their behavior. Sometimes change is brought on by the wisdom of experience, sometimes through the example of great leadership, and other times through the shocking impact of witnessing, or experiencing an incident or tragedy.
The cycling culture can create unlikely friendships between individuals who lead totally different lives and would otherwise have little opportunity or interest in interacting. Such friendships can become strong through the trust and varying levels of reliance that can develop between cyclists. However, cliques can develop. These cliques are sometimes necessary for group focus, but they can also be divisive.
A safe cycling culture depends on awareness, education, common sense and respect for traffic laws and fellow cyclists. Achieving this culture depends on characteristics that are ingrained in cyclists through their tribes, on-bike experience, and learned ability to evaluate and prevent risk. Cyclists frequently share the road with motor vehicles and especially in this environment, we must exercise competence and prudence while driving like a car.
Cyclists engaged in group rides must remain aware of other cyclists and their needs and the possible risks they represent. Poorly chosen groups or participation in a paceline above your ability level can lead to catastrophic events that could easily have been prevented by more careful selection or preride considerations. A safety-prepared cyclist possess a variety of traits. These include a strong sense of self-preservation, self-responsibility, a desire to continue to expand their skills and awareness, as well as to resist peer group pressure to take unacceptable risks.
Under the certification umbrella provided by the League of American Bicyclists’, instructors have the training to influence individual cyclists to share the road and become a part of the safe-cycling culture through safety education and on-bike skills development.
CIBA is excited to be a part of this culture, focus our resources and priorities to combine with other tribes to support a “Responsible Cyclist” Campaign. We hope to be pivotal in producing changes by emphasizing the hazard identification and risk assessment (HIRA) components in our campaign to increase safety and appeal to cycling. For a fresh start in 2015 we shall identify the existing CIBA training rides with a more accurate nomenclature of “Fitness & Conditioning” rides. Going forward, “Training Rides” will indicate a climate conducive to development of the safe-cycling culture and on-bike skills. Training rides will be under the auspices of a ride leader focused on supervised preride mechanical checks and discussion of ride expectations in regards to skills and group ride etiquette. These on-bike sessions may be combined with on-line didactics for LAB certifications for TS-101, TS-201, Group Riding education, commuter classes, Youth TS-123, and CIBA Certificates for Family Safety Training. All training rides will be conducted at conversational-pace appropriate for the group level. These are NO-DROP Rides. Participation is free to CIBA members and non-CIBA member charges are established at levels that encourage savings by the option of individual or family membership. CIBA only presents two fee-rides annually, The NITE Ride and the Hilly Hundred Weekend bicycle tour. The 250+ free CIBA rides each year are supported from these two events and membership fees.
Non CIBA member cyclists are welcome to participate in any of the CIBA sponsored rides such as Breakfast/Dinner Rides, Weekend Rides, GT Rides, Repeating Rides, Fitness & Conditioning Rides, Camping Rides, HOOTs Tandem Rides, Randonneuring and MTB Rides. If cyclists enjoy the benefits of riding with CIBA on a regular basis we encourage them to join and help defray the costs associated with the food, fluids, and SAG support provided at many of these rides. There are many benefits to being a CIBA member as reflected in our mission statement: To Provide opportunities for bicyclists of all ages and abilities to ride their bicycles on safe, friendly, and well-organized rides; to be informed of bicycle events and related activities; to volunteer in support of CIBA and other bicycle-related organizations; and to socialize with other bicyclists.
To celebrate National Bike Month each May and as an added incentive to belong to CIBA, the club offers incentives for riding 500 Miles or 500 kilometers on CIBA rides in May. Safety Training Ride miles also qualify towards these incentives.
Bike SMART- see you up the road, Ian Seecof