After a weekend of intense training, 13 cyclists have earned the prestigious certification of League Cycling Instructor (LCI) from the League of American Bicyclists, a 125-year-old national bicycling organization. And SBBIKE couldn’t be more stoked.
“Not only does this mean we have a bigger pool of instructors,” says SBBIKE education coordinator Christine Bourgeois, “all of these new instructors are ambassadors for cycling in the community—examples riding around the community and showing how to do so safely.” That’s important because safe cycling—the predictability, visibility, confidence, and competency that comes from knowing and following the rules of the road—is the primary factor for reducing bicycle-involved accidents and, thus, ensuring all road users share our transportation systems safely. Strong, confident models, says Bourgeois, encourage others to adopt safe practices themselves.
The new instructors will also teach cyclists in a more direct way. During LCI seminars, participants learn how to teach bicycle safety and skills to all levels of riders. They receive the LCI designation only after qualifying for the seminar and demonstrating excellence in these skills and the ability to teach them.
Bourgeois is excited about the many forms this will take. The new fleet of instructors will lead youth cycling programs like Pedal Power and Bici Familia and instruct adult courses throughout the county. One new LCI, Rachel Renkoski, is a PE teacher in Santa Maria, where SBBIKE is growing cycling education. In addition to leading Pedal Power there, Renkoski intends to bring bicycling to Tommie Kunz Junior High’s PE program. SBBIKE’s graphic designer, Cynthia Stahl, was also among the group. Stahl will use her new knowledge to develop better educational materials for the coalition. Bici Centro shop manager, Shawn Von Biela, plans to lead community group rides.
A couple of firsts were associated with the recent LCI seminar, which SBBIKE hosted earlier in the month. For the first time ever, there was a waiting list. Seminars are usually limited to twelve, and while this one was extended to thirteen, still more cyclists are lined up to be certified during the next seminar.
“That means cycling is booming,” says Bourgeois. “People want to educate themselves, but they also want educate others.” Others, she says, means students in the schools, city officials, public health workers, businesses, people who commute, and more. All of this adds up to an ever-growing wave of safe, confident riders sharing the roads of Santa Barbara and the benefits that wave brings—reduced congestion, reduced pollution, improved health, and boosts for business and community, to name a few. It adds up to fewer cyclists endangering themselves and others by riding on the sidewalks and running red lights. It adds up to a happier, healthier cycling community.
Also a first for this seminar, lead instructor Ron Durgin of Santa Monica, passed all thirteen participants on their first try. Bourgeois says this speaks to the commitment and hard work of the participants, who she describes as “a very interesting and diverse group, all very motivated and well-prepared.”
The 13 new LCIs hail from across the county and beyond. The seminar was a private training collaboration for SBBIKE and San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition. Bourgeois says the collaborative effort will help the entire county, fostering partnerships between the North County and the nearby SLO coalition.
All this said, SBBIKE welcomes and congratulates the new League Certified Instructors:
From its own ranks, Shawn Von Biela, Bici Centro shop manager; Joey Juhasz-Lukomski, SBBIKE volunteer coordinator; and Cynthia Stahl, SBBIKE art director. Also from SB County, Robin Elander, SB Open Streets lead; Felicia Tan, Pedal Power volunteer; Andrea Johnson, an avid cyclist who wants to teach; Zack Bertges, triathlon coach; Diana O’Connell, organizer for the 2014 Girls Inc. triathlon camp; and Rachel Renkoski, PE teacher at Tommie Kunst Junior High in Santa Maria. From San Luis Obispo, Steve Akers, SLO County Bike Coalition communications director; Tyler Jamison, Bike Kitchen manager; James Ramirez, with Public Health; and Elissa McDale, with the City of SLO Public Works.
Bourgeois extends SBBIKE’s gratitude to the City of Santa Barbara for providing the Ortega Welcome House and Measure A for helping bicycle education grow on the South Coast.
Santa Barbara County now boasts between 35 and 40 active LCIs.
Want to join the fleet?
SBBIKE provides a unique work-trade opportunity for cyclists who commit to teaching a class. Among the current group, six participants took advantage of this opportunity. The coalition will pay the $300 training fee for instructors who agree to teach a Pedal Power course or an adult training session. “If you’re interested,” says Bourgeois, “we work with everybody. We’ll find opportunities to teach.”
To learn more, contact Bourgeois at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805–699–6301.