Cold Day At School **UPDATED**
I’m back at school again! Thanks to North Tyneside Council, I’m attending a four-day course on cycle instructor training. The aim is that at the end of it, I’ll be provisionally qualified to teach others to ride a bike safely on the road to the national BikAbility standards.
To make it more of a challenge though, the weather took a really nasty turn for the worse today. It had been cold all weekend, and positively freezing last night, but then just before dawn, it rained. Rain onto already really cold ground isn’t good for cycling. It tends to be a contributory factor to breaking the golden rule about keeping the wheel side of the bike pointing downwards.
I hung back at home for as long as possible, but ended up having to leave before things had really started to thaw at all. Since we don’t have de-icers on the cycle paths, or indeed any sort of gritting & salting for minor roads, I had no choice except to use bigger roads. For this journey, these aren’t at all pleasant - it involved a short stretch of the Coast Road, which is a motorway in all but name.
The course itself is pretty good so far, though the practical session this afternoon was “challenging”. We were covering BikAbility Level 1, working as a group in the playground of a local school. The air temperature was just above freezing, it was blowing a gale, and raining / sleeting / hailing. The session was cut short after about an hour, and everyone rode back to the classroom seriously glad of the fresh tea and coffee that was waiting.
Wearing a helmet on the course isn’t mandatory, but there’s a heavy expectation that as instructors you will - to set a good example. So today, I did wear my helmet, both for that reason, but also because the roads were positively icy. I felt that the likelihood of a fall, even while pretty much stationary was high enough to merit extra protection. One of the trainers and one of the other participants had their own, “a helmet saved my life” stories, as well as an article from a local paper being passed around, making much the same point.
Both of these did grate a bit with me.
It’s the statistics and sample sizes, and the “experiments’” lack of control data, and the thing that not cycling at all is a guaranteed way not to have a cycling accident, but you’ll also all-but-guarantee to shorten your life due through inactivity arguments. Don’t get me started on these, as they’re too well rehearsed, as are the counter arguments. If BikAbility is about getting more people - especially kids - cycling, then the message we should be putting across is that it’s safe. When you see a whole bunch of people all helmeted up, it gives the opposite impression, irrespective of the reality. Marketing is all about impressions, and trying to get more people on their bikes needs as much marketing as it does good infrastructure. That, and making it really hard for people to drive ;-).
Time to stop that rant right now.
There are things I can change, and things that I cannot change. And I feel this falls into the latter. I’m on the course to learn to teach to the national standards. If they say that trainees should be wearing a lid, then that is the standard that must be applied. ** The course instructors and North Tyneside Council who’re stumping for my fees say that wearing a helmet is good practice As I’ll be teaching other people’s kids to ride, it’s not my place to take what is a subjective decision about helmet safety. ** So yes, I’ll continue to wear mine for the course (and the weather conditions), and yes, assuming I pass, I’ll be insisting that my students do the same.
Whoever said that I didn’t know the meaning of the word, “compromise”?
- Type: Cycle
- Date: 12/01/2008
- Time: 20:28:24
- Total Time: 2:00:00.00
- Distance: 18 miles
- Average Speed: 9 mph