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Empowerment for Unlimited (Bicycle) Travel!

John B.
Westbrook, ME
Happy spring, bicycle commuters!

My goal in starting this Meetup group in 2006 was two-fold: (1) to provide a forum for us bike commuters, solitary riders that we are, to get to know each other, and (2) to provide us all with support and encouragement, and beginners with information to help them up the learning curve and meet the various challenges we face with our mode of transportation.

One of the biggest challenges we always come back to as commuters is the dreaded riding around cars. I started commuting by bike with a vague sense that I was supposed to pretty much obey the same rules as car drivers, but with zero knowledge  of how that actually played out on a bike. As I've learned how to co-exist with cars over the years, through a combination of experience, informal education in Internet and personal discussions, and finally in actual bicycling classes, I've come to regard cyclist education as one of the most important means of empowerment for a commuting cyclist. There will always be jerks on the road, and there will never be bicycle-specific infrastructure that goes to every single destination, but with just a little education, a cyclist can truly be empowered to go anywhere, even with the jerks and without the infrastructure.

That's why my mission over the last few years has increasingly been focused on cyclist education. For the third year, I am again offering sessions of the CyclingSavvy curriculum in the Portland area. This curriculum was created in Orlando, Florida, in 2009, and now has certified instructors in 11 states including Maine.

If you need to get more comfortable with your bike, the "Train Your Bike" skills sessions will help you do that. The full package adds a classroom session to give you knowledge of the laws, crash causes and avoidance, and techniques for sharing the road respectfully but safely, followed by a leisurely-paced on-road Tour of Portland where we put all the knowledge and the skills together in the real world.

Even if you have been riding around town for some time, you will still learn something from this class. I know I did. Experienced and beginning riders alike testify to how CyclingSavvy has helped them. A graduate of a 2011 Portland class and Meetup member Michie O'Day writes "I took the Cycling Savvy course when I first resumed cycling after a 30-year hiatus. The most important thing I gained from it is perspective. I now realize that I'm part of the traffic moving on the road.  I practice the strategies I learned in class every time I ride."

The CyclingSavvy tag line is "Empowerment for Unlimited Travel", and I believe that's true. As a transportational cyclist, this course will give you the tools to get anywhere you need to go by bike, safely and confidently. If you ride around town every day, or would like to, taking this course is one of the most important steps you can take to make your bicycle travel a better experience.

I already have courses scheduled for May 18 in Westbrook, and June 21-22 in Portland. Click those links for details and registration for those dates, with the full calendar down the side here. (Some dates are still tentative.)

Enjoy these nice spring days, and I hope to see you out on the road, if not in class!

- John Brooking
Founder, Portland Bicycle Commuting Meetup
Certified CyclingSavvy Instructor
Facebook: CyclingSavvy Southern Maine
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