Gerry Noll is a keen cyclist who often rides to work at Emerson and also writes a cycling column published in the monthly Ferguson Times, a free local newspaper distributed widely in the city and mailed to every Ferguson resident. A couple of years ago I invited Gerry to take my League of American Bicyclist-approved 9-hour Road I course (since renamed Traffic Skills 101) and write about it afterwards. He agreed to do that and his article is reproduced below.
Reprinted from the Ferguson Times, October, 2008, page 15
The Ferguson Cyclist
By Gerry Noll
This last month I had a unique opportunity. Along with three other students I took a BIKERight class taught by Ferguson resident Martin Pion. Martin is a certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and his class is modeled after the League’s foundation course, Road 1. The purpose of the course is to teach the bicycle handling and safety skills needed to ride confidently on the road. The content of the course has something in it for every level of cyclist who is interested in riding on the roads of our communities.
The accompanying photo shows the class while on lunch break at the Whistle Stop. Martin and I are Ferguson residents; Les and Ben live in Saint Louis; Chris is from Kirkwood. All of us shared a desire to become more confident cyclists and I believe this course helped us all.
One of the first things we learned was a quote from John Forester: “Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.” Most of us as drivers of cars act confidently and almost intuitively as “drivers of vehicles”. We know when to yield; we know where our car should be positioned in most situations; we can predict what other drivers are going to do based on their speed and positioning. This course applies the same concept of being “drivers of vehicles” to bicyclists.
I’ll share more about these topics in future columns, but we didn’t just study written material. We also watched video demonstrations of proper technique and then went out on the roads of Ferguson to practice. Riding around and practicing was the best part of the course. It was a great day…a beautiful Saturday spent riding around our beautiful town!
Here’s what one fellow student had to say about the course and about Ferguson…
Les Sterman (2nd from right in the above photo) had a couple of reasons for taking the course. As a cyclist, Les wanted to learn more about riding safely on roads. Like me, Les also felt that the course has helped increase his confidence. “Prior to taking the course, I usually confined my riding to little used streets at off hours. Now I’ve been getting out in traffic much more comfortably. I’m really amazed how some of the techniques that we learned for interacting with traffic really work well.”
He also had a professional interest in learning what works best for cyclists. Les is the executive director of the East West Gateway Council of Governments…that’s the metro planning organization for the bi-state area that has responsibility for selecting the road, bridge and transit projects in the region that will receive federal funds. “For me, the course was actually very instructive on a professional basis, since my agency makes grants for bike projects around the region. I have a much better sense now about what works and what doesn’t…may change some of our funding
Les also appreciated the time spent in Ferguson: “I was very impressed with the neighborhoods we toured. The beauty of those neighborhoods is a well kept secret in the region.”
I would highly recommend this course for anyone interested in learning how to bicycle with confidence on our local roads. Or if you just want to see more of Ferguson. For more information on the course, or to find out when the next class will be offered, please contact Martin Pion at 314-524-8029 or email@example.com.
If you want to talk about cycling, or comment on this column, you can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org