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Monthly Archives: May 2011

The first-ever CyclingSavvy St. Louis course took place at the end of April, 2011, and was intended as a training session for a potential crop of CS instructors later in the year to “spread the word.” I was fortunate to be included, and the class comprised talented and interesting people, many of whom I met for the first time.

It was conducted by newly-minted CS instructors, Karen and Harold Karabell, both of whom I know well, who made two trips to Orlando, Florida, earlier this year to become certified. They live in the Central West End and also provided space for the audio-visual presentation they gave during a three-hour session on Friday night.

Karen is also a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor, receiving her LAB Road I certificate at a course I conducted in Ferguson in 2006, which qualified her to take the instructor certification. (See “So You Think You Know How to Ride a Bike?”)

Harold attended the first-ever 4-hour B.I.K.E.Right course I gave in Ferguson last year, after he’d prompted me to offer such a condensed course. (B.I.K.E. stands for Bicycling Is Kind to the Environment. The blog describing the course is here: 09/05/2010: BIKERight “4-hour” Ferguson bike education course)

One of the participants in the CyclingSavvy St. Louis course was Andrew (“Andy”) R. Cline. Ph.D., from Springfield, Missouri. Andy maintains an active cycling blog and also writes extensively on a variety of subjects on his facebook page from which I took the accompanying photo of him.

Andy posted an early review of the course worth reading on his blog at He has followed that up with video footage he shot during the ride titled: “THE STREETS OF ST. LOUIS.”

The only thing on which I disagree with Andy was in his rejection of John Forester, to whom he alludes in his introduction but avoids even mentioning by name. Andy’s review, called “CYCLINGSAVVY: FIRST REPORT” begins as follows:

“So I took the classroom and road components CyclingSavvy this weekend in St. Louis. I’ll post some video of our Tour of St. Louis ride soon. But for now I want to talk a little about the program features I found most compelling :

A theory that works: I’m trying very hard not to type the words “vehicular cycling” because that concept carries so much troubling baggage (largely associated with a single, troubling personality and his army of internet flamers). So let’s call it something else, or, rather, let’s use an apt metaphor: a dance called traffic that bicyclists must lead. I’ve highlighted the following video before. It’s worth watching again because it is the theory upon which CyclingSavvy is built.”

John Forester, circa 1970s?

I have to disagree with Andy somewhat because I know John Forester personally and have a lot of respect for him. If I hadn’t been introduced to Forester’s seminal book, Effective Cycling, published by MIT Press in 1984, I would never have gained the knowledge and confidence to ride safely on the road as a vehicle operator.

In fact, before emigrating to the United States in 1977 for a job transfer from ITT’s Central Research Lab. in England, I had been a strong advocate for segregated off-road facilities because I was unable to find good information to address my fear of sharing the road with motorists after I became an adult bike commuter.

Where I agree with Andy is in John Forester’s oft-confrontational approach. When Forester analyzes and critiques the work of those with whom he disagrees he doesn’t pull any punches and doesn’t indulge in niceties. He tends to attack the messenger as well as the message. This is where I disagree with Forester. I suggested to him that he adopts the precept of “disagreeing without being disagreeable.” His response was that he has a role to play as critic of those talking nonsense or obstructing vehicular cycling. Forester’s 1993 sixth edition of Effective Cycling, chapter 42, “Cycling in Society,” is devoted in part to the subject of how cycling has been constrained in the U.S. and those responsible for it. John Forester maintains a comprehensive web presence, accessible at

Forester also produced a more technical book I have called “Bicycle Transportation,” also by MIT Press, and geared more towards traffic engineers. It doesn’t have the polemics of “Effective Cycling” which is intended for a more general audience, and I recommend it as adding important information missing from that other book. Both can be found on-line with a Google search, e.g. from MIT Press.

Gary Cziko, who took the course, posted a comment on Andy Cline’s initial blog describing his view of CyclingSavvy St. Louis. Gary not only utters the phrase “vehicular cycling” but also makes a good comparison between LAB’s Traffic Skills 101 (TS 101) and CyclingSavvy (CS). The following is excerpted from his comment:

“It’s been a couple of years since I took TS 101 but I remember enough to compare it with CS.

One main difference is that CS focuses on knowledge, skills and practice in vehicular cycling (there, I said it!) while TS 101 includes many other topics, including bike selection, bike parts, bike repair, food and hydration, etc. By focusing almost exclusively on vehicular cycling, CS has more time devote to this. The graphics, animations and videos used in CS are very sophisticated and quite effective. ….. the road ride for CS was far more educational and challenging than what we did in TS 101 (just a group ride to and from lunch). This may be at least partly due to having done TS 101 in little Urbana and CS in big St. Louis. Also, the CS participants were mostly skilled bicyclists with many LCIs among us.

But I got the impression that the CS instructors go for the biggest and baddest intersections and segments available for the “Tour of ___” part of the course. They … want to show that the baddest conditions can be cycled safety by being predictable, visible and controlling your space, which is very liberating. …. (TS 101 and CS) are both good bike education. Get as much of it as you can and tell others to take advantage of whatever is available in their communities.”

The following group photos were taken near the end of the on-road ride on Saturday afternoon, April 31st, in downtown St. Louis.

In response to my request for background academic information, participants also provided the notes added below following the group photos.

First CyclingSavvy St. Louis class, April 31, 2011. Photo by Harold Karabell
Please click to enlarge

From left: Andy Cline, Kit Jenkins, Martin Pion, Gary Cziko, Karen Karabell, Melissa Brown, Matthew Brown, Gerry Noll, Mary Ruth Casey & Kris Schell.

Group photo with Harold Karabell posing in place of Karen. Photo by Karen Karabell Please click to enlarge

Andy Cline

Andy Cline: Has a Ph.D. and is Associate Professor of Journalism, Missouri State University, and also author of the Carbon Trace weblog.

Kit Jenkins

Kit Jenkins: “I have a BA in English Literature and an MA in Marketing.
Professor Kit Jenkins, Accredited Business Communicator, Webster University.”

Martin Pion

Martin Pion: “I have a B.Sc. in Physics & Math. from London University, UK. Passed M.Sc. qualifying exam. but research thesis was not submitted, Instead got a job at ITT’s Central Research Lab. Came to St. Louis to set up a laser diode lab. at the former McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. in 1980. Left to set up home-based business selling scientific software in 1991.”

Gary Cziko

Gary Cziko: “I have a BA in psychology from Queens College of the City University of New York and MA and PhD in psychology from McGiill University in Montréal.
I am professor emeritus of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

Karen Karabell

Karen Karabell: “I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.”

Harold Karabell

Harold Karabell: “I have a BA from Washington University and did graduate work in American History at Rutgers University. Many of the worst riders whom I encounter on my commute in the Central West End are riding to and from  the Wash U. medical school & Barnes Hospital. Presumably,  the majority of these red light running, door zone hugging, and sidewalk surfing scofflaws are or will be highly degreed and highly compensated medical professionals. :)”

Melissa Brown

Melissa Brown: “ My highest degree is a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Community Health, with a focus on Behavioral Science and Health Education, which I completed at SLU. I also am a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.”

Matthew Brown

Matthew T. Brown: “Research Patient Coordinator at Washington University School of Medicine. My degrees are: MPH (Master’s in Public Health) with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Education from Saint Louis University, and a B.A. Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago.”

Gerry Noll

Gerry Noll: “I have a degree in eBusiness that I earned completely online through the University of Phoenix. Never saw a fellow-student or teacher until graduation. It was very instructive in that every class had components that required students to form teams and complete assignments without actually meeting together.”

Gerry recently retired after a long career at Emerson Electric and opened his Ferguson Bicycle Shop just one month ago. He also has a facebook page.

Mary Casey

Mary Ruth Casey: “I have a B.S. In Nursing from SLU and an M.S. in Information Systems from UMSL. Have worked as a nurse in the past but now work part-time in a hospital in their Information Systems department.“

Kris Schel

Kris Schell: “I am a PT with an advanced CHT degree who has specialized in the treatment of the upper extremity – Upper extremity is your arm: shoulder to finger tip.”
(PT = Physical Therapist; CHT = Certified Hand Therapist.)

One of the people I met recently in the first CyclingSavvy St. Louis course, intended primarily as an introduction to the CyclingSavvy approach to adult bike education and pre-qualification for the instructor course in June, was Andrew R. Cline, Ph.D.

Andy is Associate Professor of Journalism at Missouri State University and author of the Carbon Trace weblog.

After the CS St. Louis bike training ride in which Andy, I and others participated he posted a couple of interesting related articles on his blog, including video he’d taken with what had looked like an ordinary camera mounted on his handlebars. It’s posted on-line at THE STREETS OF ST. LOUIS

The first article Andy posted – CYCLINGSAVVY: FIRST REPORT – included a vimeo of Keri Caffrey, one of the two creators of CyclingSavvy, titled Bicycling in traffic is a dance you must lead.

Exploring Andy’s blog I came across his article echoing this theme called “OMG! BICYCLING IS SOOO DANGEROUS! published on May 5, 2011. Andy had illustrated it with the graphic at left.

The metaphor “leading the dance” when you’re a cyclist reminds me of one I came up with years ago after listening to a fund drive for KWMU, St. Louis Public Radio. One of the anchors waxed poetic, describing listeners driving their cars on the road as performing a “sheet metal ballet.” It struck me that bicyclists were part of that too, only for them it was a tubular steel ballet.

That dates this observation, since at the time I was riding (and still ride) my 25-year-old chrome-moly Terranaut. Back then, aluminum frames were still something of a novelty, at least to me, and carbon fiber frames may not even have existed.

Anyway, it occurs to me that when I’m cycling on the road I’m not literally leading the dance, and typically if I am, my slow speed means a platoon of motorists will soon catch up with me. If I’m bicycling from my home to downtown Ferguson on four-lane 35 mph Florissant Rd. in the 15-25 mph range, I control the curb lane and motorists either wait behind me or pass when a safe gap opens up in the inside lane.

The metaphor that more aptly describes how I view cycling is to have EQUAL ACCESS to the dance floor. I don’t want others to argue that I’m in the way of other dancers on the grounds that they paid for the dance floor and I shouldn’t get in their way, for example.

This IS a public dance floor, after all!

Of course, there are going to be some limitations placed on access. For example, some level of age-related competence is expected: it’s reasonable to exclude a young child, just as there is an age requirement for motorists to obtain a license. But for everyone else, as long as they’re adhering to the rules and looking out for others on the floor, well why not?

Pasted below is an article featuring Melissa Brown and her efforts to promote bicycling for transportation as a coordinator in the Jefferson County Health Department. It was published in the Suburban Journals, which serve metro St. Louis, on May 2, 2011.

I met Melissa in person recently after talking to her on the phone in February of this year when she contacted me about my possibly conducting a 4 or 5 hour bike education course. We met at the first-ever CyclingSavvy St. Louis course held on Friday, April 30, and Saturday, April 31. I’ll discuss this course in a subsequent blog.

The article attracted 6 comments which ranged from support to opposition, as might be expected. Here are four of those six (with my emphasis, and a note about Missouri state law, added):

bign said on: May 2, 2011, 7:10 am
Bicycling is healthy for sure. It’s the snobbery that causes the blocking of traffic on streets and highways that isn’t healthy. The roads were built for vehicles, not snotty bicycle health freaks.

ForgenMord said on: May 2, 2011, 10:34 am
As a non-snotty, non-freaky person who nevertheless likes both bicycles and health, I heartily agree with bigns premise that “the roads were built for vehicles”. After all, a bicycle does indeed legally count as a vehicle, just like a motorcycle or a scooter or a carriage (horseless and horseful!) I look forward to the day when people using the roads with different types of vehicles can get along like grown-ups.

Comment: I believe what matters is that bicyclists are considered as vehicle operators, with the same rights and duties as other road users, except for those regulations which inherently cannot apply. Here is the actual section in the Missouri State Statutes with the important wording emphasized:

307.188. Rights And Duties Of Bicycle And Motorized Bicycle Riders
Every person riding a bicycle or motorized bicycle upon a street or highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle
as provided by chapter 304, RSMo, except as to special regulations in sections 307.180 to 307.193 and except as to those provisions of chapter 304, RSMo, which by their nature can have no application.

Cassandra said on: May 3, 2011, 9:15 am
When someone is riding their bike on the edge of the right lane, and it’s a four-lane road, going 15 mph when everyone else is doing 40, during morning rush hour, and cars are having to brake and wait or swerve into the left lane, then yes, it’s a problem.
Roads were made for cars – bike lanes were made for bikes.

ihtnep said on: May 2, 2011, 7:27 pm
bign, if a bicyclist is self righteously riding in the middle lane, delaying traffic, that is definitely a problem. Traffic tickets are the solution. If a bicyclist is riding on the edge of the road (not on interstates), at a speed of 15 mph or higher, then what is the problem? I ride to work almost every day in Tokyo, and rarely have any problems because I don’t get in the way of something bigger and faster than me, and most people understand how to share the road.

Health worker promotes the value of pedaling

By Kevin Carbery | Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 6:00 am | Comments (6 as of May 3, 2011, 9:15 am)

Melissa Brown has won a state award for her efforts to promote bicycle riding. Please click to enlarge

Melissa Brown feels that now, more than ever, riding a bicycle is a good idea.
         The chronic disease prevention coordinator for the Jefferson County Health Department sees riding as a way to get around and exercise at the same time.
         Brown bikes in her personal life and promotes the activity as part of her job. Her efforts include helping organize and run Get Moving Twin Cities, a project to improve people’s health funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health. Biking is an important aspect of Get Moving Twin Cities, which is based in the Festus-Crystal City area.
         Get Moving Twin Cities activities have included “Bike Trains,” an effort to have students ride bikes as a group with adult supervision to and from school once a week in good weather, and community bike ride events.
         The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation took note of Brown’s efforts and in April made her one of 13 Missouri residents to receive the group’s Friends of Bicycling Award for 2011.
         Brown, 27, and her husband, Matthew, live in South St. Louis and are expecting their first child in July.
         She recently spoke of her professional and personal interest in bicycle riding.

Question: Why are you such a proponent of bicycle riding?
Answer: Basically, it’s a way to get around where you’re getting some physical activity at the same time. You also save gas money and it’s better for the environment. It’s just a really fun way to get around compared to being in a car.
Q: Where is your favorite place to ride?
A: I like riding anywhere, but I mostly ride around the city of St. Louis and use bikes for transportation. It saves me gas.
Q: How old is your bike and what kind is it?
A: I actually have two bikes. I have a Schwinn Voyageur that’s, maybe, five years old. The other one is a Kona Jake that’s two years old. I like them both.
Q: How are you promoting physical activities at this time?
A: Get Moving Twin Cities is still going on. We would like to spread it to other cities in Jefferson County. We’ve seen some interest in Herculaneum and Pevely. I would like to see more participation. At our first community bike ride last October, we had 30 riders.
Q: What is the best way to be safe while bicycling?
A: Know and follow the rules of the road and ride a safe bike. We encourage people to wear helmets. Kids in our Bike Train program are given helmets. We plan to have a Bike Safety Rodeo in September as part of Twin City Days. We’ll be doing safety education and also will be giving out helmets.
Q: After all of the national “get healthy” campaigns, do you feel people are getting any healthier?
A: I think progress is slow.
Q: What is your best advice for someone looking to get healthy?
A: Look for ways where you can build physical activity into your daily life. Ride or walk for short errands. Eat better. Do family activities where you’re active with your kids.
Q: How do you feel about winning your Friends of Bicycling Award?
A: It was unexpected. I was nominated. I appreciate the award and also want to acknowledge the other people who have helped with the program. It’s not a one-person show.