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Bike Advocacy Organizations Move Bike Classes Online: Bike-Friendly Driver Training Tonight

3:50 PM PDT on April 8, 2020

A cyclist traveling across 8th and Madison in Oakland. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Many local bike advocacy organizations offer classes on bike riding as part of their mission to encourage more safe bike riding in their communities. One of the odd benefits of everyone being stuck at home is that some of them are putting their classes online.

One such training is available tonight: Bike East Bay's Bike-Friendly Driver Training has been converted to an online webinar, to be taught tonight, Wednesday, at 8 pm. Register here.

The class is recommended for everyone who navigates the road, new drivers or old, bike riders or not. Teens and old uncles who rant about crazy bike riders will both benefit. Tonight's workshop will discuss bike safety from a driver's perspective, covering rules and responsibilities for bike riders, how to avoid turning conflicts, how to safely pass bike riders, and a discussion of new bikeways and how to navigate them safely.

Bike East Bay has been offering this course both to the general public and to professional drivers. They have worked with transit agencies--Emery Go Round, Kaiser's shuttle drivers, and AC Transit--and tailored the class to the specific needs of those drivers.

But the information in tonight's course is for all drivers: what you need to know to safely navigate on roads with bikes and bike infrastructure. "You could have gotten your license in the '70s," said Robert Prinz, Bike East Bay's education director. "Since then there are new laws and a lot of infrastructure changes."

Bike East Bay, one of the largest bike advocacy organizations in California, has an extensive bike education program, based largely on the League of American Bicyclists' training courses for bike riders and wannabe bike riders. Their League-certified teachers regularly offer basic courses including Adult Learn-to-Ride classes and Urban Cycling 101, much the same as other organizations throughout the state.

The Bike East Bay team also developed a series of shorter classes on specific topics, some of which are being offered as online webinars, since they have had to cancel in-person and on-bike classes. Some topics--carrying things by bike and preventing your bike from being stolen--have already been covered in webinars held over the past few weeks.

Upcoming webinars, besides tonight's bike-friendly driver training, include biking after dark, bike commuting basics, and several sections of the classroom portion of Urban Cycling 101. This last is recommended for both new and experienced bike riders, and covers a load of basic information bike riders need to know. Topics include how to adjust a bike to fit the rider, pre-ride safety checks, rules of the road, safe riding practices, and communicating with other traffic.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is offering a "Smart City Cycling" course online (April 21 at 5 p.m.; click on "Upcoming Courses"). The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is soliciting input about classes and webinars its members would like to attend.

Active SGV just today confirmed that it will offer its first one-hour course on bike education and safety training on April 18th and 25th, in both English (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and Spanish (noon to 1 p.m.). Those should be listed on the Active SGV website soon, as will other events they are able to move online.

Bike East Bay is also offering other online options for learning. One is "Ask an Advocate," a live Q&A hosted by Dave Campbell, the organization's advocacy director. "This is a good opportunity to learn from and ask questions of one of the most experienced advocates in the Bay Area," said Prinz. "And he will probably have some good stories to tell." That could include barbeque recipes, one of Campbell's areas of expertise.

"Ask an Advocate" will take place tomorrow, Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m.

On top of that, Bike East Bay is also offering "Bike Civics" trainings online, for people interested in getting involved in making biking better in their communities. Those trainings will cover several topics, including defining different bike facilities, from bike boxes to green lanes to parking protected bike lanes. "What's involved in creating them, what they're supposed to do--so people understand the menu of options so they can effectively advocate for them," said Prinz. Another will cover how to advocate effectively in public meetings or via letters to your city council.

Bike East Bay's Prinz urges local community organizations and businesses to contact them to request classes on any of these topics, or other similar ones, for their employees or members. "For the time being they have to be in a webinar format," he said, "but we can work with them."

"A lot of people are interested in getting out on bikes, because transit service has been cut," he added. "We want to serve that need, but also make sure people can make those bike trips comfortably and safely, so once the stay-at-home order is lifted they'll still want to ride their bikes."

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