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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?

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