Dust Off & Polish: Teach a Refresher

by Mitch Trujillo, PCI #244T/EMSCI #248T, Boulder (CO) Police Department

If you’ve been instructing bike classes, it is possible you’ve been approached to provide in-service or refresher training for bike skills, either in-house or for other agencies.  Maybe you’ve already performed this type of training for students to maintain or improve their skills.  Or possibly, you’ve purposely planned in-service or refresher training in order to help generate positive recognition and enhance the perceived value of your bike unit.

Whoever or whatever is driving the need, everyone can benefit from the methods and materials available through IPMBA’s programs.

In this segment, I’d like to cover two useful drills:  the Transitioning Drill and the Lane Change Merge Drill.  These may be implemented as in-service or refresher training, and can also be incorporated into the basic courses.

We can all appreciate how vital it is to get everyone in a class to ride safely from one area to another.  These are two simple drills that I have found useful over the years.  Both drills can be performed in conjunction with the required skill stations, and will help promote safe group behaviors during vehicular cycling rides.   

Should you decide to use them, both drills should be conducted prior to taking the class out into traffic.

Transitioning Drill

I learned this drill a long time ago, and still use it in my classes with great results.  The purpose of this drill is to simplify the teaching of group transitions, from single- to double-file and back.  It supplements ITK Skill Station 16:  Transitioning.  Aside from a classroom visual, this seems to be the most accepted method used for enhancing the instructional process, and involves the students more.

Use the same type of parking lot training facility as described in Skill Station 16.  Cover the “Teaching Points” for Skill Station 16 with the students, including Communication, Rules of Group Riding, and Transitioning Rules. 

Have your students dismount and stand in a single-file line away from their bikes.  Tell them to imagine they’re riding in the right one-third of their traffic lane, but that they will complete the transitions on foot, moving from single- to double-file and back as if they were actually riding.

Cover the same material in the skill station on foot, and then have the students mount their bikes, as per Skill Station 16, and practice in the parking lot before entering traffic.  This simplifies the learning process and minimizes the penalties for mistakes.

Lane Change Merge Drill

The second drill involves group lane change merges.  The drill is based on a technique borrowed from Commute Orlando (http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/animations/group-riding/).  Check out the video and animations as a reference (special recognition to Keri Caffrey, founder of CyclingSavvy and American Bicycle Education Association, for the excellent animations). 

This lane change technique has been adopted as a standard vehicular cycling method for executing group lane changes and merging into lanes during the IPMBA Instructor Course.

As with the Transitioning Drill, the movements should be practiced on foot and on bike in the parking lot prior to entering traffic.

Simulate two parallel traffic lanes using traffic crayon or chalk in your parking lot.  When in double-file as above in the Transitioning Drill, the lead “rider” (who is on foot) starts the lane change by calling out the change and pointing to the destination lane.  The lead rider waits for the rear rider to rear scan (clear the move) and initiate the lane change before the lead rider moves.  Initiating the group’s move this way allows the rear rider to ensure no cars are trapped or cut off by the group. 

These drills are preventive in nature.  The techniques found in the drills should be used in all classes, even ones with just a few students.  By taking the time to implement the drills into your course, you benefit from their economy of words and simplicity of directions, and being able to set clear expectations for the group before moving into traffic.

Hope this is helpful.  Ride safe, and as a certain IT once declared, “When you’re through learning, you’re through!”

Mitch is an IPMBA Instructor Trainer, former Education Director and IPMBA Board Member, IMBA National Mountain Bike Patroller, and is the director of MTB Responder, LLC.  He can be reached at 1x1mitch@gmail.com.

(c) 2015 IPMBA.  This article appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of IPMBA News. 

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