Friday, June 23, 2006

Bicycle enthusiasts trained as certified instructors

Training prepares instructors for neighborhood bike safety program

Express Staff Writer

Bruce Mackey, an instructor for the League of American Bicyclists, teaches bicycle safety to newly certified instructors in the Wood River Valley. From left, are Mackey, and new local instructors John Straka, Jason Miller, Conar Cunningham, Kim Orchard and Dave Kassner. Photo by Willy Cook

Six Wood River Valley bicycle enthusiasts are newly certified instructors through the League of American Bicyclists, thanks to a training program last week in Ketchum.

The six are now ready to take their knowledge to the streets as part of a valley-wide bicycle safety endeavor organized by the Blaine County Recreation Department, the Ketchum and Sun Valley police departments and Wood River Ride Share.

Neighborhood bicycle safety classes, taught by the newly certified instructors, will be announced soon, said Ketchum Police Sgt. Dave Kassner.

Safety training is becoming increasingly important in the valley as more folks take to bicycles for sport, exercise, transportation or just plain fun, Kassner said.

Besides Kassner, the new instructors are Sgt. Kim Orchard and Patrolman Conar Cunningham, of the Sun Valley Police Department, Jason Miller, of Wood River Ride Share and local bicycle racers Patty Puz and John Straka.

The six became certified instructors following a two-day training course last week. Instructing the instructors was Bruce Mackey, a nationally known League of American Bicyclists expert from Hanford, Calif.

Kassner said different training programs are being prepared for children and adults, since the two age groups have different skill levels and typically encounter or cause different problems when biking.

The program will teach youngsters how to properly enter traffic, safely avoid roadside obstacles, safely make left-hand turns and safely pass through intersections.

Adult training will focus on the major causes of adult bicycle accidents: riding on the wrong side of the road, failing to yield the right of way, failing to obey traffic signs and riding at night without lights and rear reflectors.

"Cyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other traffic," Kassner said. "And if they drive and are treated like they are regular traffic, there will be a lot less accidents."

Bicycle Safety

Bicycle safety training for both children and adults will soon be offered in neighborhoods in the Wood River Valley. Bicycle enthusiasts should keep their eyes open for announcements, or can contact one of the area's newly certified safety instructors:

David Kassner, Ketchum Police Department, 726-7819

Kim Orchard, Sun Valley Police Department, 622-5345

Conar Cunningham, Sun Valley Police Department, 622-5345

Jason Miller, Wood River Ride Share, 788-7433

Patty Puz, 726-2159

John Straka, 726-9240

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