LAB’s Traffic Skills 101 class – Explained

[check Arizona class schedules: cazbike.org/BikeEd]
Traffic Skills 101 is a hands-on class of effective cycling. It was originally created by John Forester and taught as a college-level class at Berkeley. Over the years, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has refined it and the current version is known as Traffic Skills 101. The name is more telling of the content as well as the level of detail included.
TS101 or similar classes are taught by a few organizations and individuals in Arizona. TS101 consists of four hours of classroom instruction (talk, video and powerpoint) and five hours of on-bike instruction, some of which is done in a protected parking lot and some is done in real-life traffic. This may seem like a large amount of time, but to properly cover the following subjects, it is barely enough to do them justice:
  • Bicycle and helmet fit, and why each is important.
  • Pre-ride check of your bicycle to catch problems before they spoil your ride.
  • Respect for and from other users of the roads.
  • Best lane position regarding your destination, road conditions and traffic conditions.
  • Visibility, both day and night.
  • A fine-tooth comb examination of applicable state law, and what it requires of both motorists and cyclists.
  • The pros and cons of both properly installed bike lanes and road markings that are often, and sometimes disastrously, mistaken for bike lanes.
  • Parking lot skills training for precise control of your bicycle as well as maneuvers to avoid mistakes of others.
  • Actual crash and injury data showing the contributing factors, thus giving the ability to anticipate mistakes of others, as well as what not to do yourself.
  • Knowledge of what skills to use should you need to protect yourself.
  • Tire changing and flat fixing. What tools and spare parts to bring with you.
  • Hydration and eating.
  • Best pedaling rate for endurance and how gears are used to help you in this matter.
  • Special cases, such as, railroad crossings, up and down hill rides, wet weather and cycling on multi-use paths where slow and fast cyclists, children, pedestrians and horses may be sharing the path.
  • Actual riding in traffic on a predetermined route that includes many considerations covered in the classroom. Includes many stops for rest and evaluation of conditions encountered.
  • Written test that is a review of classroom and road experience.
  • Graduation, the proof of accomplishing these objectives.
  • Finally, our mantra, over and over again: “Cyclists fare best when they act as, and are treated as, drivers of slow vehicles.”
Cycling fun increases when confidence increases. TS101 increases confidence by replacing fear with knowledge and skills. These classes are still the only nationally recognized bicycle safety classes taught by certified instructors. Most of these instructors simply have a passion for their favorite mode of transportation and sport, and desire a safe and mutually-respectful use of the roadways by cyclists and motorists alike. Every blown stop-sign, etc. by a bike rider breaks that mutual respect as does any form of disrespect of cyclists by motorists. Building that mutual respect is the way to increase everyone’s safety. That is the objective of Traffic Skills 101.
Gene Holmerud
League Cycling Instructor, #1193
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