Cycling, how we got here. What’s next for you?

Cycling has had many ups and downs since I (CABO supporter Pete Penseyres) started riding as an adult in 1971. Twice in the ’70s, Middle east countries banded together as OPEC and cut the world’s supply to boost prices when we were heavily dependent on imports. We had rationing, odd-even license plate days when we could purchase gas. Bike sales soared and people rode bikes to work because it was faster than waiting hours to get a partial tank of gas in a car that got as little as 10 MPG. Both times, when the crisis was over most of those bikes were hanging upside down from garage rafters.
Bike Centennial in 1976 saw thousands of people ride bicycles across the US and bicycle touring was popular.
From 1982 thru 1986 Race Across America was filmed by ABC and shown on Wide World of Sports, winning Emmys each time.
Then Greg Lemond won the Tour de France, which was also televised on network TV. He was accidentally shot, nearly died, but came back and pulled off the most spectacular comeback/upset in history in the final TT onto the Champs Elysees to win by 8 seconds. Racing in America exploded in popularity.
Lance Armstrong inspired another boost in cycling when he recovered from cancer and won the Tour de France a record 7 times, but those titles were subsequently taken away for drug use.
Again and again, we thought all those new riders would continue until cycling became mainstream and accepted by the general public.
And now we have had COVID 19 lockdowns and an “overnight” increase of about 50% cycling trips. Will it continue and grow or will history repeat itself?
I really don’t see any reason to think this time will be any different.
The new COVID-19 cyclists have not flooded our free Smart Cycling Zoom sessions to learn how they can be safer on any roadway. And the empty roads of April are again full of cars.
However, being a life long cyclist makes me optimistic that maybe this time, younger folks will decide to stick with bicycling, becoming healthier, and saving money at the same time.
And I have a story to go along with that optimism…
Last year… a pre-COVID 19…a young couple came to the Smart Cycling Class in Oceanside and graduated after completing both the live (sigh) classroom and the road session.
They learned how to feel empowered while riding over a freeway with cloverleaf entries and exits, making left turns from a 4 lane road with no left turn pockets, navigating through a roundabout, walking as a pedestrian and riding as a driver, merging into the center of the lane and maintaining that position into, thru, and out.
They learned that they can ride in the middle of the rightmost lane that serves their destination, completely outside the door zone, two abreast if desired, with or without sharrows, as long as there is another lane to their left for faster drivers to use.
They learned how to use and enjoy off-road Class 1 facilities and seek out gently used side roads.
And they learned the Smart Cycling avoidance skills. They practiced the weave, quick stop, rock dodge, and quick turn.
They became confident enough to sell both of their cars and used the cash to pay down their student loans.
They were both substitute teachers and commuted by bike to all the schools where they worked. In one case they used the Sprinter from Oceanside to Escondido then rode the rest of the way to San Pasqual.
One of them joined our regular Wednesday group rides until they were suspended by COVID 19… both the group rides AND their jobs.
I emailed them, concerned about the loss of their jobs, and scheduled a socially distanced and masked ride to learn how they were doing.
They applied for unemployment and stimulus relief and were making more than they were substitute teaching. They used the extra to continue to pay down their student loans.
If any of you reading this are inspired to follow the path this young couple has, perhaps this Smart Cycling Zoom session next Monday night is the best place to start?
Virtual Smart Cycling Classroom (Oceanside) – San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
Virtual Smart Cycling Classroom (Oceanside) Register Now The Smart Cycling Program is an excellent opportunity to learn how to ride your bike safely! League-Certified instructors will share their wealth of knowledge and make sure you leave feeling more comfortable riding on the road and in traffic.

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About Jim Baross

I bicycled across the USA from East to West in 1976 leading groups of bicyclists for the “Bikecentennial ’76 “event and again in 2007 riding this time from West to East with my two sons. I was first certified as an Effective Cycling Instructor in 1986 by the League of American Bicyclist and have been an active League Cycling Instructor for the League since then. In 2002 I gained acceptance as a Cycling Instructor Trainer and since then have conducted 11 training seminars for certification of League Cycling Instructors held in San Diego, San Jose, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento, Morgan Hill, Fairfax, and Palo Alto. I completed the San Diego Police Bicycle Skills Menu Course in 2003 and I have been an expert witness for bicycling crash incidents. I presently serve on several bicycling advisory committees and advocacy organizations. Chair - Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Working Group for the San Diego regional association of governments since 1995 Vice Chair - California Bicycle Advisory Committee for the State Dept of Transportation, a member since 1992 President - California Association of Bicycling Organizations Board member - California Bicycle Coalition California State Ambassador – League of American Bicyclists Co-Chair California Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Challenge Area 13, Improving Bicycling Safety Conferences, seminars and similar events at which I have attended and presented bicycling safety information and training include the following: Speaker/Presenter, Calif. Office of Traffic Safety, Summit “What to do about all these bicycles in Traffic”, 2009 ProWalk-ProBike Conference, Seattle WA., 2008 Attendee/Speaker, League of American Bicyclists, Bike Education Conference, Wisconsin and New York City, 2002 & 2007 Velo Mondial, Amsterdam. 2000 Speaker/Presenter, Calif. Office of Traffic Safety’s Summit “A Vision for Roads to Traffic Safety”, 2000 Speaker Autovation conference, San Diego 2005 Chair, California Strategic Highway Safety Plan, #13 - Improve Bicycling Safety Presenter, California Strategic Highway Safety Plan Summit, 2008 Anaheim Attendee, League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Summit, Washington, DC, 2006 & 2008 Presenter, Walk/Bike California Conferences, Oakland 2003, Ventura 2005, Davis 2007 Speaker, Making the Connection International Trails and Greenways Conference Presenter, Safety N Kids, Conference, “Children Learn Best by Good Examples From Those They Trust”, 2006 Speaker, ITE Conference 2006 Dana Point, Calif., “Engineering for Bicycling, From a Bicyclists Point of View” Exhibitor/Speaker, Lifesavers, National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, 2004 References familiar with my bicycling background and experience include: Kathy Keehan, Exec Director San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, Ph: 858-487-6063, Email: Stephan Vance, Chair Calif. Bicycle Coalition and SANDAG Senior Planner, Ph: 619-595-5324, Email: Ken McGuire, Chief Bicycle Facilities Unit, California Dept of Transportation, Ph: 916-653-2750, Email: Preston Tyree, Director of Education, League of American Bicyclists, 1612 K St., NW, #800, Washington, DC 20006, Ph: 202-822-1333 x 227, Email: