If you think people don’t know how to drive cars safely, imagine the deficit of knowledge and confidence when it comes to bicycling.
The scary truth is that the vast majority of people using our roads don’t know as much about how to operate their vehicles as they should — not to mention the legal requirements of doing so.
Vivek (“Viv”) Jeevan wants to change that. Jeevan, whom you might recall from our video profile or his recent legislative pursuit, is one of Oregon’s pre-eminent road safety educators and researchers. He recently launched a new service for the community that aims to teach people not just how to bike safely; but how to be a safe road user no matter what vehicle you are in.
Portland Bicycle School is Jeevan’s latest passion project. By day, he works with high tech medical devices and trains people how to use them safely. “So it’s easy for me to bring those concepts to traffic education,” he shared with BikePortland via email last week. “This is the bicycle equivalent of Drivers Ed.”
Jeevan is certified as a bicycle instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and veteran cycling advocate whose work with the nonprofit Corvallis Right of Way (now defunct) is widely respected. Local bike advocate and certified instructor Frank Stevens has been trained by Jeevan and has now joined him as an instructor-for-hire.
“Viv’s instruction approach is unique because his course is focused on not only cyclist instruction but also driver education,” Stevens shared with BikePortland. “Pushing back against the misinformation and polarized viewpoints about cycling, while creating a perspective shaped by how fun and energizing biking can be in our local community.”
The two offer a range of services that are flexible to the needs of almost anyone — from folks brand new to cycling, to veterans who want to know the latest laws and tricks to avoid near-misses. The nine-hour class is split between classroom theory and hands-on bike rides with instructors.
The curriculum at Portland Bicycle School pulls from the League of American Bicyclists as well as that of the American Bicycling Education Association — the only two nationally-sanctioned groups that offer bike education.
What sets their courses apart is Jeevan’s integration of car driving best practices and his deep expertise in what causes car/bike collisions. “I’ve likely conducted more studies and written more about the behavioral causes of traffic crashes and fatalities with cyclists and pedestrians than anyone in America,” Jeevan shared with BikePortland (and I realize how that comes off, but Viv is an exceedingly nice and humble guy!).
“Many bike educators out there have never taken a class, never read what causes crashes, never read a law, and never read the Drivers Manual. They don’t know data, theory, and laws. They simply pass along myths they’ve heard,” he continued.
Jeevan scours incident data, police reports and traffic crash analyses to more deeply understand the true root causes of collisions. “We know what are true safety problems and what are myths, so we focus our resources on the top problems,” he says.
Jeevan feels more formal cycling education will save lives and make people better riders and drivers. And to keep things fun, Portland Bicycle School’s offerings complement the Bike Buddy program run by BikeLoud PDX. That program focuses on the need for a social connection to cycling for new riders.
Classes are $60 per hour for individuals (with one-on-one instruction) and $30 per hour for groups. Learn more at PortlandBicycleSchool.com.