VACC Streetwise Course breeds confident road cyclists
I bought a bike off of Craigslist a few weeks ago. It's a red, vintage Apollo Capri five-speed cruiser, and I have named her Sheila. While I had bicycled since I was a kid, I had never really biked on the road and the thought of doing it sort of made me nervous. It was just my luck when a fellow Georgia Straight writer and avid all-weather road cyclist directed me towards the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition website and their Streetwise Course. Since I was planning on riding to work this summer, I decided that getting comfortable on the road and learning all of the rules was probably worth $45 and four hours of my time.
The Streetwise Course is currently held on most weekends. They move to different locations all around Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Richmond, so I went this Saturday to their course offered downtown. There were five of us taking the course (a smaller number most likely due to the morning rain) and one instructor. We started off with the classroom component, looking at slides of different road scenarios and learning how to deal with each of them, including four-way stops, changing lanes, and tricky left-hand turns in busy intersections. Then, we learned about what to look for when inspecting our bikes before a ride, and how to temporarily fix things, like a hole in a tire.
About an hour and a half into the course, we started on the road component, and biked down to the Coal Harbour Community Centre to practice some skills, like signaling, shoulder checking, and dodging rocks. Then, we embarked on our near-two-hour ride, meandering through the West End, going over the Burrard Street Bridge, weaving down to Granville Island, and taking the bike lane back to our downtown location. Our instructor let each of us take turns leading the pack, and by the end, I was surprised by how comfortable I felt biking on the road.
Later on when I rode my bike home, I felt so much more confident cycling on the road. I was able to use all of the skills I had learned, like signaling and shoulder checking, and felt like I could handle most road situations. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn how to ride on the road, or for those who just want to brush up on their cycling skills. There are still two more courses offered in May—just in time for Bike to Work week.
Visit the VACC website for more details and to register for a Streetwise Course.
You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.