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learning how to ride smart

Taking a left turn on a four-lane highway isn’t necessarily on a cyclist’s bucket list. It certainly wasn’t on mine before I set out to get trained as a Cycling Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists in the fall of 2021.

In true car-free fashion, I had booked a ticket on the Salt Lake Express shuttle, requested a trailer-spot for my bike, and caught an early morning ride from Saint George to the Salt Lake City airport. From the airport it’s a short bike ride to the Jordan River Trail, which I took almost all the way to a friend’s place on 9th and 9th where I would spend the night for the next few days. I’d ride my bike 5 miles to the Bike Utah offices in South Salt Lake every morning. Bike Utah hosted our seminar, and Shane Rhodes, an experienced Smart Cycling coach and active transportation professional from Oregon, would train us to teach safe cycling techniques.

I am a life-long rider, and my motivation behind taking this three-day, intensive training wasn’t so much to learn more about safe cycling, but to learn how to teach safe cycling techniques to others. I may have thought I knew, if not all, but almost everything about what it takes to ride my bike to get places. As the story goes, I was wrong.

The League’s Smart Cycling curriculum is designed to serve both novice and experienced riders. As a more experienced rider, one of my main takeaways was how proper lane positioning can drastically increase my safety, especially in high traffic situations or on multi-lane roads, as was the case when we had to take that left turn on a four-lane highway during a group ride.

For novice riders, the League’s extensive curriculum covers everything from choosing your bike and fitting your helmet to riding with a group and how to avoid and anticipate hazards. People who ride bikes love to reminisce about the sense of joy and freedom that bicycling can bring. But it can be hard to get started, or started again, after years of not riding. Biking in urban contexts can be especially intimidating. The League’s work is driven by the understanding that bike education is about more than hard skills. It is about creating connections with other riders, and about empowering more people to ride wherever they choose.

safe cycling clinic

We are adapting and shortening the League’s 8-hour smart cycling curriculum to a series of two 1.5-hour clinics that will take place on March 24 and March 31. Our clinics are specifically designed for riders who want to learn more about bike safety. We will focus on the practical and the theoretical knowledge you need to navigate this region’s roads and trails safely.

REGISTER HERE

Topics we will cover include:

Road Hazards and the ‘five layers of safety’

Principles of Traffic Law

Basic gear you’ll want to take on every ride

Tips for navigating urban areas

Basic Maintenance: The ‘ABC Quick Check’

Riding in groups

Practical Drills: starting, stopping, shifting, turning, signaling

We invite riders of all abilities, ages, sizes, genders, and racial backgrounds to join us!

Our goal is to teach skills that will help you feel more comfortable navigating this town on a bike, and to have fun on a mellow, social ride. We guarantee we won’t worry about speed, and we’ll allow for plenty of time for everyone to complete the loop during session II.

*Children are welcome. They need to be able to ride about 3 to 5 miles or be pulled in a trailer/ride along on a cargo bike. They need to be supervised by their guardian at all times.

Questions or concerns? Please contact our Freedom to Ride Specialist Judith Rognli.

WRITTEN BY JUDITH ROGNLI

Judith Rognli is our Active Transportation Specialist and a Cycling Instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists. A Northern German native, she has ridden her bike places since kindergarten. She navigates Washington County on her Surly Big Easy Cargo Bike with her six-year-old son in tow. When asked whether she feels safe riding her bike around town with a child, she’ll probably tell you that ‘there’s always a bike way’ that allows her to avoid busier roads and intersections. Judith loves sharing her skills and her passion for riding with people of all ages and backgrounds.