A few weeks ago, I took a 2-day class-- Urban Cycling Techniques-- from the local Cascade Bicycle Club in order to learn how to teach it. And of course, I even learned a few things! In fact, I'm glad I took the class if only to learn those things.
I'm a pretty confident cyclist already. I've raced, toured across the country and moved out of an apartment by bicycle trailer. That's a strong resume. However-- I've done most of my cycling in WALLA WALLA. Walla Walla is about 5 miles wide and major 4-lane arterials are easily avoided. While I do have 'advanced cycling skills' for riding in traffic-- I know when to take a lane, change lanes and what dangers to look for at intersections-- I haven't spent a lot of time cycling in a truly urban setting.
And I KNEW that we would be riding in an urban setting for this class.
But I didn't think that we would deal with--
merging and diverging freeway ramps.
SWEET! I was strangely excited. That's possibly one of the most complicated or intimidating situations you could find-- and now we were going to conquer it. And we totally did. And it was totally easy and intuitive.
Additionally, I was glad to have some 'official' input on my unresolved questions about riding in traffic. IS it okay to enter the roadway using the crosswalk? What is the law regarding lights and reflectors? Do I have the right to take the lane in every state? If the bike lane is unsafe, do I have the right to NOT use it?
And finally, I'm glad I took this class for my initial intent-- to learn how to teach it, both in class and in a casual setting. Now I know how to ride safely and also how to EXPLAIN how to ride safely.
Moral of this story?
Whether you're a beginner or an experienced cyclist-- take an Urban Cycling class!