Written by Alejandra Alvarez & Kevin Shin
Ale: I have been a transit rider for most of my life and didn't begin riding bikes avidly until joining LACBC in July 2021. My love for riding bicycles grew with every mile that I commuted, and soon, bike riding was my primary mode of transit. My experience riding bikes is that of many other Angelenos; I was never taught how to ride bikes safely and was discouraged from doing so outside of recreational purposes.
Working with local LCIs to coordinate bike safety classes and group rides across LA County has taught me the essence of being a social changer. I have always admired LCI's ability to teach folks how to ride their bikes safely and empower them to demand their share of the road. Becoming an LCI was important to me for many reasons, mainly to become a more skilled and knowledgeable cyclist. Additionally, becoming an LCI meant equipping myself with the appropriate skill sets to teach and lead the next generation of cyclists.
Kevin: Growing up in Southern California, I was shuttled around everywhere by car and only ever rode a bike for recreation. Being mechanically inclined, I quickly found myself a stereotypical “car guy” with a love of cars, especially high horsepower performance cars. But after spending a decade on the East Coast after college, I realized very quickly the joys of taking public transit and bicycle commuting: not having to stress in traffic, being able to get some exercise into my already busy schedule, and feeling more connected to my community. Moving back to the LA area, I wanted to find ways to share that with folks and becoming an LCI feels like a natural extension of that journey.
Having gotten back into biking almost 20 years ago and being involved in bike advocacy ever since, I felt it was important for me to be certified as a League Cycling Instructor to ensure that I had access to the latest knowledge and resources to help bring the joy of bicycling to more folks in the greater LA community. And as climate change continues to cause increasingly inhospitable conditions in our region, it has become increasingly important to encourage more folks to look for not just ways to drive less, but to actually get out of their cars at every possible opportunity and consider alternative modes of transportation.
"Despite having sat through a dozen Bike Safety 101 presentations and having passed my pre-assessment, I still felt intimidated about sharing space with experienced and seasoned cyclists, especially as the only woman in the room!" - Ale
Ale: With only a year of experience in bicycle safety and advocacy, I felt like I was entering the Smart Cycling Seminar as a rookie. Despite having sat through a dozen Bike Safety 101 presentations and having passed my pre-assessment, I still felt intimidated about sharing space with experienced and seasoned cyclists, especially as the only woman in the room! To my surprise, however, the Smart Cycling Seminar in Oceanside offered me the most optimal learning experience, where I felt safe asking questions and admitting when I did not know something. It was an absolute privilege learning from cycling legends like Jim Baross and Pete Penseyres, who equipped us with the most up-to-date resources on bike safety, demonstrated how to teach others effectively, and humored us through such a rigorous weekend.
Kevin: As an experienced bike commuter, I was skeptical that I would learn all that much coming into the LCI Seminar. The Smart Cycling class we were required to take as a prerequisite felt like it was entirely review for me, but the LCI Seminar ended up being less focused on the skills of cycling and more on the skills needed to convey the knowledge to others. That is where I felt I got the greatest value out of the three day experience was understanding what are the most effective ways to teach the curriculum that the League of American Bicyclists has created. Having a solid grasp of the materials ahead of time meant I could focus more of my energy on refining my teaching skills and concentrating on making sure that I could clearly and skillfully convey my knowledge to students. That alone made the multi-day investment of time and energy well worth it.