New cycling course begins next semester; PED 169A promotes bike safety

A new course in cycling will be offered for the spring 2011 semester to promote cycling safety.

PED 169A: Recreational Cycling will be an eight-week physical education course designed to enhance students’ knowledge of cycling. Ben Rollenhagen, a physical education and sport adjunct faculty member, created the course to improve safety conditions on and off campus.

“People think that once you learn how to ride a bike, that’s all you need to know — through my experiences and all the competitions I’ve done that’s definitely not true,” Rollenhagen said. “There’s a lot to learn about riding.”

Students will advocate for bicyclists’ safety, learn about bike repair and take to the streets to learn signals and safety. The course will also teach bike etiquette, maintenance and training.

Nathan Wernette signed up for the course as a way to enhance his bicycling knowledge.

The Hudsonville senior rides his bike three to four times a week.

“Most people don’t know the rules of cycling,” Wernette said. “I know people that have ridden down the wrong side of the street.”

The course is suited for all levels of riding and requires students to have a bike and helmet, Rollenhagen said. Students will have to ride in various weather conditions as well.

“As long as the streets are dry, they are rideable,” Rollenhagen said. “Cycling is an everyday activity. You’re going to have to learn how to maneuver and ride a bike in all types of weather.”

Rollenhagen said bicycles are considered cars and need to be treated as such, as well as follow the same rules.

“Many people yell ‘get off the street,’ but if you’re going a certain speed you’re not allowed to be on the sidewalk,” Rollenhagen said. “Bicyclists also need to stop at stop signs.”

Rollenhagen has been cycling for eight years and has noticed the negative attitude toward bicyclists. Such attitudes include being cursed at, ran off the road and swerved at.

Bicyclists are told to ride with traffic and stay as far right as possible.

Allison Quast, manager of the Mid-Michigan Cycling Club, said the course will benefit students as well as the campus and community.

She said by educating cyclists and non-cyclists alike, the course will reduce the likelihood of cycling accidents, as well as fostering a more bikeable community.

“This course will also explore the many benefits of cycling, such as transportation, exercise and leisure as lifelong activities,” Quast said.


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