I really like the concept behind this recent NPR story on bike trains in LA. The idea of the bike train is that a conductor, an experienced, confident cyclist, leads a group of people on a determined route to help new cyclists learn how to ride in traffic. In fact, the concept reminds me a lot of the Big Sister/Little Sister program we started in Quito, because the idea is to find mentors in your neighborhood to help show you the ropes and build your confidence riding a bike.
However, this story also makes me pause because of how it belittles small community scale change, like bike trains, in comparison to large, infrastructural investments like bike lanes. The logic is that bike trains only reach such a small group of people, whereas bike lanes can reach many people. And I get that. But I’m also a big believer in these small changes, because in my experience it helps to create truly informed, passionate cyclists. I think that someone who learns to ride with a mentor I think is more likely to be a cycling advocate and to encourage others to ride, than someone who uses bike lanes because they are convenient. Obviously, both sides are needed – the large infrastructural investments and the small scale community action – I just get automatically defensive when I feel like a news story is belittling community action.
Last thought on this – I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY GOT SOMEONE TO ADMIT ON AIR TO RUNNING CYCLISTS OFF THE ROAD. What an asshole!