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Education is the Best Advocacy
: Focus on the Texas SuperCyclist Project
: Getting SuperCyclist Started
: Nuts and Spokes: How It All Works
: Knowing Your Age
: Keeping Your Head on Straight — Teaching Helmet Safety
: SuperCyclists, Super Challenges: The First Hurdle
: Second Super Hurdle: Generating Interest
: Arm Yourself With the Facts
: Keeping It All in Stride

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Resources for this article:

Texas Bicycling Coalition

Texas SuperCyclist Project

From A to Z by Bike: the Comprehensive Guide to Safe Bicycling for Kids and Adults
Available from AMC Media Corporation, Box 33852, Station D, Vancouver, BC V6J 4L6. A brief pamphlet for non-cycling teachers or adults who want to educate young cyclists.

Effective Cycling
by John Forester, 6th Edition. Available from MIT Press.

Bike Safety materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Education is the Best Advocacy:
Focus on the Texas SuperCyclist Project

By Rebecca Johnson
page 2

Getting SuperCyclist Started

  A group of teaching professionals gathers in a school gymnasium to learn Module I, the safety rules.
It's a Texas-sized goal that requires some Texas-sized cooperation. But it started small. The Texas Bicycle Coalition originally came together in 1990 as an advocacy group, responding to a ban on bicycles in Frisco, Tex. The group supported the passage of the Intermodal Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), but as Tyree notes, "We were largely a defensive group at that time: we weren't involved in large legislative struggles."

All of this changed in 1998, when newly hired executive director Gayle Cummins responded to an article in PARADE magazine which championed the use of bicycle helmets, but offered little other guidelines for bike safety. Cummins' op-ed response on safety education was picked up by twenty-six newspapers, and generated an overwhelming response from parents, teachers, and others. After all, at least six million persons in Texas cycle at least once a year. With that in mind, Cummins decided it was time to focus on the larger cycling spectrum.

After all, at least six million persons in Texas cycle at least once a year.

From then on, things literally picked up overnight. While handing out water bottles at a cycling event, Cummins made a chance contact with one of the sponsors. A representative from Subaru of America, Inc.offered the company's support. "'What would you like to do in Texas?' they asked," Tyree recalls. "We then had only 48 hours to put together a package describing our plans for this program."

And the Texas SuperCyclist Project was born. Subaru of America, Inc. pledged $150,000 over the initial three-year period, provided that the coalition could secure the rest of the funding from other sponsors. The support of the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) provided a three year Traffic Safety grant. Support from other agency and private partners like the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD), the Texas Medical Association, and the Texas Hospital Association was critical. But even with a variety of supporters, the coalition's office work force itself is relatively tiny, comprised of a skeleton crew of full and part-time staffers, and dedicated volunteers.

In the city of Austin, people know Preston Tyree. "They call me 'Mr. Bike Man' around here," Tyree says. But Texas is a huge state, so in order to reach across its vast territory, the Texas Bicycle Coalition created the network of cycling instruction that has become the backbone of the SuperCyclist Project.

next page, Nuts and Spokes: How It All Works >>

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