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  • Free bike safety classes offer guidance, reassurance to new and experienced riders

    Apr 27, 2017 | Read More News
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    At first, 15-year-old Domonique Hill wasn’t exactly thrilled to be taking a Pima County bike safety class with her mom. In the end, she wound up taking four.

    “To be honest,” she said, “I’m really glad I went.”

    Domonique’s mom, Erika, wanted her daughter to be comfortable riding by herself to a summer volunteer gig as well as have the ability to make minor repairs on her bike. They were so pleased with the early April “Women’s Mechanics” class they took that they enrolled in a “Women’s Traffic Skills” class later in the month.
    Bike safety class
    “I want her to be able and comfortable to change a flat or make any needed adjustments while out and about,” Erika said. “Plus, you get a free item out of it! We got a new helmet and light set.”

    The Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program sponsors a number of different bike safety classes including classes designed specifically for children and university students. All classes are conducted by League of American Bicyclists instructors, and free bike safety items such as helmets, bike lights, and u-locks are often included with participation.

    Visit bikeped.pima.gov for the full schedule of safety classes

    At the opening of a recent traffic skills class, instructor Colleen Giles encouraged students to conduct an “ABC” check of their bikes: air, brakes and cranks/chains/cables. Among the quick tips she offered:
    • Always check air pressure by pushing on the top of the tire, not the sides. The sidewalls are more likely to give and may indicate you need air when you really don’t.
    • When you pull on your handbrake, does it go all the way back to the handlebars before the brake pads touch the tires? If so, your brakes need adjusting.
    • Do you have some delay when switching gears? Your cable tension may be off.
    Both Hills said they found their classes extremely helpful. Erika said she and her daughter learned the importance of cleaning and maintaining their bikes and equipment on a regular basis.  

    “Not only does this provide for longevity of your bike, but for safety as well. Additionally, it provides an understanding of your equipment for when something does go wrong, how to identify it, fix it yourself or at the very least be able to explain the issue to the bike shop,” Erika said.

    Erika Hill fixing bikeShe had another reason for wanting her daughter to take the bike safety classes. It won’t be long before Domonique is behind the wheel of a car herself.

    “I thought it wouldn't hurt to learn by having that understanding and respect for other cyclists on the road.”

    The classes aren’t just for rookie riders. Ray Velez rides 70-100 miles a week with friends while training for triathlons and races like El Tour de Tucson. He took the Bike Mechanics class on a recent Saturday and learned a lot about proper cycle maintenance from the instructor, John Rossman, whom he called “an amazing catalog of cycling knowledge who knows the ins and outs of just about every type of bicycle out there.”

    That’s just the kind of feedback that Matthew Zoll, director of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, likes to hear.

    “I sit in on our classes on occasion and I learn something new almost every time,” Zoll said. “For us, the bottom line is safety and anything we can do to make our driving, cycling and pedestrian community safer, we’re going to endorse wholeheartedly.

    “Besides,” he continued, “you get free stuff. What’s not to like?”  
     
    To register for a bike safety class, contact the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program at 520-724-BIKE or email Olga Valenzuela-Ochoa.


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