New BC urban biking course and credits

Illustration by Kevin Chinn

All a student can ask from a teacher is that they truly care about the subject in which they teach. Students can tell when a teacher is going through the motions for a paycheck or truly engaged, excited about passing their knowledge of the subject on to students.

In partnership with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, the Health Sciences Education and Wellness Institute is offering an “Urban Biking” course: HLTH 296 Special Topics in Health. The class, which was first offered this spring quarter, will be led by both Josh Miller, an employee for bicycle alliance and Peter Prescott, a health instructor at Bellevue College.

Miller works for a company called Bicycle Alliance of Washington, a company that informs the public about bicycle safety, laws, and routes to take, in addition to any other bike-related topics you may think of.

“People can expect to spend about half of the class time on bikes. Peter Prescott and I will co-teach and we are both really excited about the course,” Miller said. “The class is so new and we are super excited to run the class! Safety, learning and fun are respectively our three top priorities.”

Safety seems to be the highest propriety on Miller’s list.

“We will learn about and practice bicycle handling techniques, evasive maneuvering and hazard avoidance, rules of the road and Washington State law as it applies to bikes. Students will learn about being predictable, visible, respectful of other road users and proper lane positioning,” Miller said.

But bicycling in urban places or cities isn’t as dangerous as one thinks. “I have been an avid bike rider for three decades and I still find challenging road conditions and scary drivers, but there are ways to mitigate nearly all of them. Being savvy, sensible and trusting your judgments go a long way.”

“No, I haven’t had anything horrible happen to any of my students,” Miller said reasurringly. “We take special care to minimize risks and to be as safe as possible.”

Urban biking sounds like it would just be a lot of road riding and not a lot of tricks, but to my surprise Miller said, “Oh, I do a few tricks, but mostly not in class! I jump my bikes all the time and wheelies are fun.” He jokingly added, “I find myself hopping over road hazards semi-routinely, but mostly feel too much like an old guy to want to risk wrecking much anymore except when mountain biking.”

Miller seems very passionate about what he is teaching. He really wants people to learn all the precautions and safety rules you have to do and know before riding a bike and simply wishes to talk  about biking with students.

“I want students to come out of the course knowing more about how to safely bike to and from campus and in other bicycling adventures that students want to take.” This isn’t such a bad thing to learn about because there are a lot of people around the campus who ride bikes to school.

“I want to teach and learn from my students as well as have fun talking about and riding bikes. I want people to use bikes as much as they are comfortable for commuting, errands and fun. I have seen the positive impacts of this class on the bike riding experiences of my students and I want to spread that around,” said Miller

The “Urban Biking” course can be a fun way to knock off a required health credit. Miller is sincerely passionate about his class and he is excited to pass his knowledge of biking on to others. What more could a student ask for in a teacher?