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2364Re: "I'm an instructor in our local cyclists' club and we teach . . "

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  • Theo Schmidt
    Apr 6, 2001
      At 13:36 Uhr +0200 1.4.2001, <eric.britton@...> wrote:
      >Dear Theo Schmidt and other knowledgeable CarFree Cyclists,
      >
      >We here at The Commons - the group behind Earth Car Free Day - have long
      >maintained in our transport policy and practice work that cycling, and in
      >particular urban cycling, is something that people need to take the time to
      >learn to do properly....
      >...
      >On Earth Car Free Day we would like to see if we can get this message out,
      >and for that we need to have access to some sort of "kit" to guide people in
      >this. Maybe such a kit already exists. If do, it would be great to know
      >where so that we can link to it....
      >...
      >My thought was that one or more of the good people in this forum might take
      >a first whack at an outline for such a program and that we could then
      >circulate it in the coming days for comment, additions, etc. First here and
      >then when you consider it ready for it on a few other well placed cycling
      >sites.

      There is probably not enough time to do this properly. Cycling looks
      deceptively easy - and is very easy in "easy" conditions or with good
      guidance - but solo cycling in traffic as a "newbie" is quite
      daunting and it takes more than a set of instructions to overcome
      fear or reluctance. My experience is that many people cycle as a
      child and then never do it again except maybe very occasionally on a
      holiday or something. They will almost never start cycling properly
      again. Then there is a large crowd of leisure racers who however
      almost never use a bike as transportation.

      The good news is that young families are good cycling candidates. If
      one of the parents cycles, the other will usually come along for
      outings and holidays. In Switzerland the simple marking of cycle
      routes on existing roads and publicity for this have helped a lot
      getting more people on cycling outings in the summer months. Mass
      events may also prove popular, kind of a tourists' critical mass, but
      organised with the local shopkeepers who love to sell the cyclists
      their wares. On the first Slowup around the Lake of Murten, 30'000
      attended and every shop and club was on the street selling something.
      I remember getting a coffee and bun from an automobile club who set
      up a diner!

      Unfortunately these events don't just happen but take a lot of
      organisation and money, and they are completely fluky: I remember one
      event billed as the "largest gathring of cyclists ever in
      Switzerland" and heavily sponsored: hardly anybody showed up in spite
      of fine weather. Then the other point is that half the cyclists show
      up by car, so from an objective point of view it would be better if
      they stayed at home...

      Another point is good guidance. In Paris you can do guided tours of
      the city by bike. I was amazed how the guides took groups of people
      right through the busiest Paris traffic, sometimes even running red
      lights and one way streets, and all followed perfectly, even such
      people who obviously weren't used to cycling. Maybe we should think
      about organising cycle tours for everybody on certain days.

      Anyway, I'll be happy to give this all more thought for a later venue.

      Theo Schmidt, Switzerland
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