(by David Koppstein) Although our primary focus is racing, the MIT Cycling Club’s mission statement is “…to encourag[e] the enjoyment of all types of cycling in the MIT community.” In the spirit of giving back to this community, we decided to host an Urban Cycling Skills Clinic to foster safe cycling practices for newer riders who primarily use bicycles as a mode of transportation. On May 12th, 30 bicyclists from the MIT community descended on the N10 Parking Lot, where Nicole Freedman and Amy McGuire introduced the basics of commuting by bike, demonstrated key skills, and organized the students into four groups.
The first group, taught by Amy McGuire and Kamal Ndousse, emphasized beginning riding skills, such as hand signals, riding close with a partner (to simulate tight conditions with cars and other riders on the street), looking behind while riding in a straight line, and coming to a sudden stop. The second group, taught by veterans Zach LaBry and Spencer Schaber, built on these skills by having the riders weave through cones, practice bunny hopping obstacles, and keeping their weight low by picking up water bottles on the ground. David Koppstein, Elizabeth Mayne, and Matt Redmond led a crash course in bike mechanics, helping students practice changing a flat on their own bicycle, and demonstrating routine drivetrain maintenance. Finally, Nicole held a clinic on commuting tips. She emphasized fundamentals like wearing a helmet, the rules of the road, and being bright and visible. Additionally, her students practiced cycling outside of the “door zone” and avoiding right hooks and left crosses at intersections.
We concluded by recapitulating key points from the clinic, and distributed informational pamphlets from MassBike and free front lights, which were supplied by an ODGE Graduate Student Life Grant and a generous subsidy from Cateye. Furthermore, we invited these cyclists to participate in no-drop social rides to Lexington and Concord, and encouraged them to subscribe to our e-mail lists.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we hope to hold more of these clinics in the future, especially during the fall when new students matriculate.
Writes M. Giron:
“I just wanted to thank you and the Cycling Club for putting on this awesome clinic. I had much more fun than I thought I would, and I think you guys are doing MIT a great service!”