Tagmobility education

The local bike shop: first line of education for smart city cycling

I left this as a comment on Better Bike, a campaign for safe streets in Beverly Hills, California, on a post about cycling and mobility education, and driver’s ed.

I don’t think cycling classes in Chicago are well-publicized. If someone asked me about them, I would just say, “Go see the Active Transportation Alliance website”. But I don’t actually know if that information is on there.

Occasionally the REI in Chicago holds free informational classes, but can someone sign up for a smart city cycling class there? Or anywhere?

In addition to the all of the things that the smart city cycling class you describe in the post offers the students who sign up (a self-selection bias to mobility and cycling education), bike shops are a place where people can receive education on how to ride safely, assertively, and defensively on urban roads. The bike shop salesperson or mechanic is the last person one sees and listens to before they put their new wheels on the asphalt.

I’ll add that bike dealers can do a lot of other things that make cycling more convenient for people:

  • Register bikes, at the sale point, with the police so if a bike is found the owner’s contact information is in the database
  • Teach people the ABC Quick Check, or whatever’s in vogue.
  • Invite the purchaser to ask questions at the sale time, and ask them to come back any time to ask questions. Create a relationship with the purchaser and set a tone that there are no bad questions.

I believe there are bike shops that do these things (I haven’t purchased a bike myself in a while, nor do I feel I need this education), but I feel that not enough do. I think that if bike dealers were educating customers I would be witnessing fewer hairy maneuvers on the road, and bikes in better condition (like tires with air).

This is next to impossible when so many bikes are purchased from department stores.

Note: Bike dealers in Chicago are required by ordinance to submit sale information to the Commissioner of Police: “Every person engaged in the business of buying or selling new or second hand bicycles shall make a report to the commissioner of police of every bicycle purchased or sold by such dealer, giving the name and address of the person from whom purchased or to whom sold, a description of such bicycle by name or make, the frame number thereof, and the registration number, if any, found thereon.” 9-120-080.

It doesn’t say when or how often. And it says “frame number”, which I don’t understand as this doesn’t identify the bike uniquely. A different ordinance requires bicycle purchasers to register themselves the serial number.

Mobility education is one way the Netherlands is the safest country in which to travel and commute

A woman pushes a child in a bakfiets trike (cargo bike), while another child cycles in front of them. 

What is mobility education?

It’s an expansion of driver’s education (driver’s ed) to include learning how to bicycle safely, how to walk safely, how to use transit, and how to drive a car around diverse transportation system users (those who aren’t in a car). In the Netherlands, this education starts at 10 and 11 years old. Watch the video below to see how elementary school kids use the “traffic garden” in Utrecht (I went there in January 2011) to learn how to be safe.

The Netherlands has the lowest crash rate in the world. And the lowest injury and fatality rate. Part of this is based on good design and engineering, but also education, enforcement, and different liability laws.

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