When I first started cycling to work, I was more than a little intimidated by the traffic. It’s scary to navigate cars that get impatient with each other for hesitating a moment at a red light, let alone a little lady cycling on a 10-year-old bike. Still, once I realized that biking was my most reliable form of transit, I was committed to learning the ropes of bicycle commuting. I started out on the sidewalks — partly because I was riding so slowly (I learned later this was because my tires had 75% less pressure than they should have). Still, sidewalks are dangerous and annoying. There are pedestrians, driveways, ice cream carts, and taco trucks. To ride safely (without hurting anyone), it would take me nearly 30 minutes to go 3 miles.
Enter Ron Durgin’s bicycle safety class. Ron Durgin represents the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition in teaching both classroom and road safety classes for bicyclists. This class changed my commuting world. Ron helped me figure out why my bike was so slow (he even pumped my tires for me). He also walked the class through the rules of the road — and showed us how we could find the safest routes, share the road with cars, and direct traffic with good cycling habits.
I don’t know if future classes are in the works (the road portion of the class is amazing), but the classroom portion was derived at least partly from this booklet put out by the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition: “Bicycling Street Smarts.”
Many women cyclists I meet in particular are hesitant to share the road with cars. I was one of them. But the class shows that it really can be safe to share the road. With my plumped-up tires and and new riding habits, I’ve cut my commute time nearly in half — and ironically enough, feel much safer than I once felt on the sidewalks.