How educated cyclists can become cycling educators: new classes debut

by Wes Robinson, Director of Education - Austin Cycling Association

Austin Cycling Association, in coordination with the League of American Bicyclists, Bicycle Sport Shop, and the National Bicycle Dealers Association, rolled out two new bicycle instructor programs on Nov. 21, 2009. Twenty youth instructors and two skills instructors were certified to teach basic bicycle safety to children and adults. Students included individuals from the YMCA, the City of Austin Child Safety Program, the City of Leander Fire Department, Safe Kids Austin, the Texas Office for Prevention of Developmental Disabilities and Bicycle Sport Shop's mountain bike racing team. ACA hopes to offer youth and skills certification courses every quarter beginning in 2010, subject to enrollment minimums .

As a certified youth instructor, students were taught how to organize and administer child safety clinics (aka bike rodeos).  The two-hour course offers advice on administrative stations such as helmet fitting and bike inspections as well as basic and advanced skills stations.  The course manual includes detailed course diagrams and recommended clinic layout.  At the conclusion of the classroom portion of the course, students moved to the parking lot where they participated in laying out a child clinic course.  Certified youth instructors have access to ACA's youth helmet program and material such as chalk machines, as well as liability insurance through LAB.

After completion of the youth instructor training, instructors are eligible to become certified as skills instructors to teach basic bicycle handling skills to adults.  The course was designed at the request of NDBA and instructors are taught techniques to teach new and returning adult cyclists to feel more confident controlling their bikes through a series of on-the-bike drills in a quiet setting such as a parking lot.  Skills instructor manuals include detailed course diagrams and advice on teaching adult cyclists how to control their bike in simulated traffic situations.

In addition to the youth and skills certifications, four league cycling instructors were certified as master instructors and are now eligible to lead youth and skills certification seminars.

If you are interested in any of ACA's education efforts or if you have any questions, please send an e-mail to educationataustincycling [dot] org.

Article originally published in Southwest Cycling News, Volume XIX, No. 11, Dec/Jan, 2009/10, front page. Photos courtesy of Fred Meredith.