President’s Message: Safe Cycling…That’s the Message

By Bill Telgheder
MasterLinkJune2015_page20_image9In December, the BTCNJ board announced plans to focus our efforts in three areas for 2015: 1) offer more bike rides, especially in the “D” and “C” ride levels; 2) improve rider safety though education; and 3) simplify board and volunteer activities.

Last month, Rides Captain Andres Tiribocchi announced generous incentives, from May through August, to lead “D” or “C” rides, become a new “D” or “C” ride leader, and train a new “D” or “C” ride leader. These generous incentives will allow you to quickly earn points toward your ride leader jersey. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. It’s the best incentive ever offered by our club to earn points. Details are listed on page 6 of this MasterLink.

Improving rider safety is going to be more challenging. Yes, we are trying to change the culture of BTCNJ to be more safety-oriented and motorist-friendly, but change is never easy.

First, it starts with adjusting our mindsets. To do so, we have to question our assumptions about our cycling behavior, seek to eliminate cycling habits counterproductive to our goals, and encourage positive cycling practices. It’s time to be honest with ourselves about our cycling behavior, if we wish to change it and cycle safer.

Next, we have to overcome resistance to change, which is accomplished through education and demonstration of the desired cycling behavior. Lots of effort is underway on this front. Tom Conlon conducted an energetic contest on traffic skills at our April club meeting. At our May club meeting, traffic Safety Specialists from the New Jersey Automobile Club presented key traf- fic skills that all cyclists should follow. Ray Nutkis has graciously and succinctly recapped these traffic skills in this month’s MasterLink on page 8. John Daugherty has posted several questions on BTCNJ’s Facebook page, encouraging cyclists to follow proper traffic skills.

Once we’ve overcome resistance, we must constantly reinforce the safe and appropriate cycling behavior we seek to maintain, and then we must consistently demonstrate safe cycling behavior. Who, you might ask, are “we”? It’s our board and safety committee members. It’s our rides captain, ride lieutenants, and ride leaders for each and every club ride. It’s all of us!

So, for the all-inclusive “we,” we will WAIT behind cars at red lights, no longer riding up alongside and in between cars to get in front of them. We will come to a complete STOP at all stop signs and red lights. We will STOP rather than hug the curb when taking a right and traffic is approaching from the left.

Learning proper traffic skills takes time and patience. Our club is one of the largest cycling clubs anywhere. Let’s set the example and abide by the rules of the road, so that our BTCNJ rides and riders are safer and more motorist-friendly