Cycling instructor Q&A: Common mistakes and learning safe cycling

Paul Salomon is a League Cycling Instructor (LCI), one of a dozen or so in Iowa. That means he’s certified by the League of American Bicyclists to teach people – children and adults – how to safely ride their bicycles.

He also serves on the Cedar Rapids Bicycle Advisory Committee, which is helping prepare the city’s application for Bicycle Friendly Community designation.

I asked him about the most common mistakes made by experienced cyclists. These are the people (like me) who think they know a lot about this stuff.

He said the two most common mistakes of experienced cyclists are:

  1. “Running stop signs and stop lights.  Even very experienced riders will do this.  I’m not talking about failing to slow down, look, and yield, but rather blowing through a stop.  I think it is especially bad when a cyclist runs a properly operating red light.
  2. “Failing to move to the middle or to the left of the lane when it is safer to do so, and knowing when it is safer to move left rather than keep as far right as possible.”

Riding on the road is one of several subjects that LCIs cover in a basic cycling class, which includes four hours of classroom time and five hours on a bicycle. Salomon said classroom time includes discussion of bicycle fit and adjustment, safety checks, tire repair, and adjusting derailleurs and brakes.

“We also talk about clothing and equipment, traffic law, bicycles in traffic, road hazards, and motorists,” he said. “The riding time has skill drills such as scanning and signaling, rock dodge, quick stop, and instant turn.  Then we ride on the road for about an hour to learn proper road skills.”

More information on LAB classes in Iowa and elsewhere.

Salomon said he hopes to offer classes through Kirkwood Community College and the Cedar Rapids Recreation Department at some point.

Next time: Common cycling accidents

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