A cycling advocacy group formed in the wake of tensions between Augusta’s riders and motorists continues to grow.
On Saturday, Wheel Movement will hold its first class on proper etiquette for cyclists riding in traffic and the laws that apply to cyclists on the road. Though small – the class was limited to 10 people – Wheel Movement’s vice president, Christian Lentz, said it’s a sign that the group is on the right track.
“This first year, we’re kind of learning our way through … learning how to be advocates for what we care about and trying to get the name out,” Lentz said.
Wheel Movement was started through a $1,000 grant from Georgia Bikes! in 2011. By the time of its first meeting in May of that year, Dr. Matthew Burke, a surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, had died in February of injuries suffered when he was hit by an SUV during a group ride on Beech Island Avenue. In August 2011, Dr. Dan Dickinson was killed when he was hit during a cycling commute to Eisenhower.
Lentz has noticed a change in attitude among the recreational cyclists in the past year. The so-called spandex crowd has been much more careful and aware of their surroundings, he said. The continued challenge is to seek out and educate the cyclists who only venture out on the road several times a year and make sure they know how to stay safe, Lentz said.
“The cyclists that are doing it by obligation might not have the experience,” Lentz said.
About 20 more people have joined Wheel Movement since its inaugural membership drive, bringing the total number to about 60. More classes are expected after five members of Wheel Movement become certified safety instructors in November. Wheel Movement will also be involved with the Georgia-Lina Bike Summit in mid-October, which will bring more than 100 cycling advocates and instructors to a weekend seminar at Augusta State University.
While the group has three focus areas – education, outreach and advocacy – Randy DuTeau, the chairman of Wheel Movement, said the emphasis for Augusta’s group is educating motorists and cyclists.
“We can all do something better,” DuTeau said.