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LCI Spotlight: Will Wlizlo
The League certifies hundreds of League Cycling Instructors every year and there are thousands of LCIs around the country leading bike education efforts in their communities. In our LCI spotlight series, we are sharing the stories of League Cycling Instructors doing what they do every day: educating, mentoring, empowering. You don’t have to be an extraordinary athlete or overachieving student to be a stellar LCI, all you need is the conviction that life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes.
In the first week of National Bike Month, schools across the nation celebrated Safe Routes to School’s Walk, Bike and Roll to School Day, a day to encourage and celebrate the joy and independence of walking, biking & rolling to school. Our latest LCI in the spotlight is a shining example of those using their bike education skills to make biking to school safer and easier for kids to do every day! Meet Will Wlizlo, bike educator and Safe Routes to School Coordinator. Find our earlier LCI Spotlights in our blog archives.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU ENJOY TEACHING OTHERS TO BIKE.
My name is Will Wlizlo, and I am not only an LCI but also the Safe Routes to School Coordinator at Richfield Public Schools, a suburban district in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area. In addition to leading our district's pedestrian and bicycle education initiatives, I work to make it easier and safer for students to walk and bike to school in many other ways: planning encouragement events, working with public works on infrastructure projects, etc. The education component is really important to the rest of the work: it makes everything else more effective and worthwhile. And, of course, teaching 4th graders how to use turn signals and then going on two-wheeled field trips is the most fun part of my job!
WHAT FIRST MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME AN LCI?
When I started a job with our statewide advocacy organization, Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, I was invited to attend an LCI seminar. While my job at the Bicycle Alliance really didn't involve much bike education, in my new role as a Safe Routes to School Coordinator it's the professional skillset I use most!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REWARD IN TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
I love teaching learn-to-ride skills to youth. Whether they are little and haven't mastered their motor skills or anxious high schoolers who never got around to learning, when the pedals start rotating for new riders my stupid heart melts every time.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR AN LCI WHO WANTS TO TEACH A CLASS BUT ISN'T SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?
Do it with another person! (And not necessarily just another LCI.) My favorite educational experiences are those that involve another organization or partner, such as community education, parks and recreation, or cultural groups. Practitioners in other fields have resources and insights that you probably don't, as well as a strong understanding of the people who participate in their programming. In Richfield, I have been able to offer Spanish-language bike education nights through community education, even though I don't speak the language. Those events have been very fun, much appreciated, and well attended. Another plus: attending a class or event such as "Learn to Bike With a Park Ranger" is inherently less intimidating than "Learn to Bike With a Bike Expert."
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU THINK THAT ALL LCIS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
In my experience, almost everyone needs to feel how to safely use a bike with their body before they can with their brain. Prioritize on-bike experiences as much as you can and come back to the think-y stuff later.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING ON A BIKE?
I've commuted and otherwise transported myself mostly by bicycle for the past 15 years. I also feel almost stress-free most of the time. Could it be a coincidence?
GIVE US AN INTERESTING OR FUNNY FACT ABOUT YOU.
For about a year, I worked on a permaculture farm in Australia. I grew broccoli, drove cattle, pruned grapevines, ring-docked sheep, and wrote truly, truly bad poetry.
Know an LCI who should be featured next? Nominate a stellar bike educator here!