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Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Students of Diana Lewiston’s bicycle safety class listen for instructions from Lewiston via walkie-talkie.” June 1, 1988, San Jose Mercury News, California. Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.

“Students of Diana Lewiston’s bicycle safety class listen for instructions from Lewiston via walkie-talkie.” June 1, 1988, San Jose Mercury News, California.
Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.

Diana Lewiston taught a comprehensive school-based bike education course for 13-year-olds as a Physical Education elective in the 1980s and early 1990s in Palo Alto, California, middle schools. I got to know about it and help her marginally with a problem she was having with the walkie-talkies with which each student was equipped, attached to either their helmets or headbands during all the on-bike sessions. (Baby alarms operating on the same frequency were interfering with the walkie-talkies.)

Even though I was at the time a fairly knowledgeable on-road cyclist, having commuted to work by bike since the late 1960s, starting in England, I still learned valuable lessons from her curriculum. I subsequently incorporated some of Diana’s ideas into my own classes when I became a League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor in 1997 and started teaching adults and the occasional young cyclist.

Among them was the Cyclist’s U-Turn, which is handy when wanting to turn left from a side street onto a busy multi-lane road, for example (please see page 18). Especially useful for the novice waiting to enter a stream of traffic is estimating when there’s a safe gap. Instead of trying to estimate the speed and distance of an approaching motor vehicle, the time it takes in seconds for that vehicle to arrive determines a safe gap, the minimum for safety being roughly 6 secs., depending on road conditions. (Please see page 5.)

Diana Lewiston recently gave me her generous permission to copy and disseminate her curriculum via this blog. I’ve copied each page as a jpeg and strung them out in order below. Altogether they total 54 pages, including 39 pages of detailed activities and 11 pages of appendices and other material, including the road map and a summary of each day’s course activities, which comprised 45 minutes each consecutive school day for 4 weeks, according to this curriculum.

Of those activities, the first 6 sessions were classroom-based, but most of the rest were on-bike, either parking lot or on-road, with the emphasis on the latter.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Although the material is copyrighted, it may be reproduced and used for the purpose intended provided only that this blog ( is referenced as the source and Diana Lewiston is credited as the author and copyright holder.

The entire document is reproduced page by page below. It has also been saved as a single pdf document of file size 15.4 MB which may be downloaded: bicycling_in_traffic_lewiston_1988

[The latest compressed version is still 10.9 MB: bicycling_in_traffic_lewiston_1988a]

P.S. On page 8 Diana Lewiston describes two methods for starting a bike from rest: the Rodeo start and the Step Over start. The first of these is a faster start and when I lived in England that was the only one I typically saw used. However, as John S. Allen, a highly knowledgeable cyclist, has pointed out, it is rather an unstable method and uses a good deal of lateral space on the road as the cyclist throws a leg over the frame.

John Allen prefers the Step Over start, where the cyclist is standing stably over the frame with one foot firmly on the ground. When ready to start the cyclist presses down on what Diana Lewiston refers to as the “power pedal” – the cyclist’s preferred starting pedal. This is demonstrated by Theresa James in the blog BIKE START-STOP MOVIE [or Around the world by bike in 4 seconds!]