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Saturday, Dec 9, 2023

CyclingSavvy brings bicycle-safety class to Middlebury following summit

A Vermont Bicycle Summit will be held at the Middlebury Town Hall on May 6 and will feature panel discussions, individual presentations, tables from cycling organizations and nonprofits around the state and a keynote speaker.

Cycling instructors John Allen ’68 of Waltham, Mass., and Bruce Lierman of Bennington, Vt., hope to offer a panel discussion about CyclingSavvy, a program that is a part of the American Bicycling Education Association, Allen said. 

CyclingSavvy aims to provide education resources for bikers and advocates for cooperation between bikers and motorists and bike-specific infrastructure in communities. 

In conjunction with the summit, they will also hold a three-part CyclingSavvy course for riders in the Middlebury community the day after the summit, May 7, with the hope that cyclists attending the summit will stick around for the event. 

“I'm, of course, extremely interested in seeing whether Middlebury community members would be interested in taking this course,” Allen said.

A classroom part to CyclingSavvy’s course will take place on Zoom prior to the May 6 summit, while parking lot and road sessions will occur throughout the morning and afternoon of May 7. 

“The parking lot session is about bicycle handling skills — how to use the brakes effectively, how to shift gears so that you accelerate quickly, how to make a quick emergency stop, how to turn quickly out of trouble,” Allen said. 

The road session will focus on practice under real conditions, including how to approach the rotary in town. 

“The object of this is to build skill and confidence in riding a bicycle under real world conditions,”Allen said. 

Allen has been cycling for over fifty years, since his time as a student at Middlebury. “That’s a history that goes back to when I was at Middlebury. I was the only student who regularly used a bicycle to get between classes at that time,” Allen said. 

He began taking cycling more seriously in the mid-1970s, when he became an expert consultant and witness to attorneys in bicycle crashes. He also published the Complete Book of Bicycle Commuting in 1980 before becoming a CyclingSavvy instructor in 1982. 

Allen said he would recommend the course for anyone teen-aged or older who is able to ride a bicycle with stability, operate brakes and shift gears. “It’s not a children’s course; it’s a driver training course for bicyclists. What I have to say is that after you take the course, your whole approach to bicycling might be transformed.” 

Lierman also said that the course is “very much oriented toward street riders and people riding on their own.” The curriculum works well for learning to ride in a town, Allen added. 

Participants also must arrive with a working bicycle, and preferably one with gears, Allen said.  Borrowed bikes and electric bikes are perfectly acceptable as well. 

Though the exact location of the parking lot and route of the road sessions are yet to be determined, Allen and Lierman said they plan to research far in advance to find areas and situations that cyclists might find challenging. 

It is a course, Lierman said, aimed to change attitudes about the cyclist’s role in traffic. “We often use the phrase mindful cycling, because it’s about being aware of your immediate surroundings.” 

Registration for the course can be found at, with signups listed on the event calendar. 

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Maya Heikkinen

Maya Heikkinen '24 (she/her) is a Copy Editor. 

She has previously served as an Editor at Large, News editor, copy editor and staff writer. Maya is majoring in Conservation Biology with a minor in Spanish, but is also passionate about writing. She is from Orcas Island, WA, and loves being immersed in forests, running/hiking, gardening, and hanging with plants and cats. In addition to The Campus, she has been involved in SNEG and the currently extinct WildMidd.