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 http://isocrates.us/bike/2011/05/cyclingsavvy-first-report/. 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.”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 http://www.johnforester.com/
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.
From left: Andy Cline, Kit Jenkins, Martin Pion, Gary Cziko, Karen Karabell, Melissa Brown, Matthew Brown, Gerry Noll, Mary Ruth Casey & Kris Schell. 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: “I have a BA in English Literature and an MA in Marketing.
Professor Kit Jenkins, Accredited Business Communicator, Webster University.” 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: “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: “I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.” 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: “ 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 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: “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.”
(PT = Physical Therapist; CHT = Certified Hand Therapist.)