Cycling course to boost safety

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There was a time when bicycle commuting was more of an oddity than a trend, but that has changed in recent years.

Denton is home to some serious cyclists, and for a growing number of them, a bicycle is now the preferred mode of transportation.

We can appreciate the interest in cycling — it’s environmentally friendly, a great way to cut costs and just plain good exercise — but we also know that there are dangers involved with riding a bike on area roadways.

That’s why we were happy to learn that the Denton Police Department is offering a bicycle training course to help ensure cyclists’ safety.

Registration is now underway for the free “Smart Cycling: Traffic Skills 101” all-day training course to be offered on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Denton Police Department and it’s open to ages 15 and older.

The course will be a combination of classroom and on-bike activity to provide cyclists the skills required to ride alongside motor vehicles.

“It’s a lot of fun, and we even go out for a ride on the street together as a group to implement what we have learned,” said Lt. Tom Woods, who’s been a cyclist in the area for 26 years.

Woods said the class is geared for riders who use their bikes as a primary mode of transportation and will provide valuable experience to help make commutes safer. The course, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will also teach riders bicycle safety checks, how to fix a flat and crash-avoidance techniques.

But the day should also be enjoyable, Wood said.

“We are in the classroom for about two-and-a-half, three hours and the rest of the time we are on our bikes.”

The course is free, but riders are required to bring their own bikes, helmets and other essentials. Bikes without freewheel capability and mechanical brakes will not be allowed, Woods said.

The curriculum, approved by the League of American Bicyclists, also offers participants a chance to receive league certification by taking a 30-question written exam and an on-bike road test.

The League of American Bicyclists has been around since the 1800s and represents more than 57 million cyclists in the United States, according to its website, www.bikeleague.org.

Organizers hope to see the course fill up quickly and are looking forward to conducting more in the near future.

To register for the course, e-mail tom.woods@cityofdenton.com.

We believe the course is a great idea, and we hope the demand will not only fill up this class roster but will spill over and create a need for additional sessions. This is the type of expert advice that all safety-conscious cyclists need.

A great deal of cooperation is required when bicycles and motor vehicles travel the same roadways, and the class is a great beginning to help make sure that everyone has a safe commute.

Now, the police department needs to consider offering a class to help motorists gain a better understanding and heightened awareness of cyclists — a refresher course on the rules of the road and how to share.

We all need to get along out there.


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