Effective Cycling is a trademarked cycling educational program designed by John Forester, which was the national education program of the League of American Wheelmen for a number of years. The Effective Cycling program consists of text books and training courses (for both students and instructors) and a training video for students. The EC program helps people learn to ride more efficiently, safely, and enjoyably.
The heart of the program is a set of vehicular cycling practices. These practices are based upon years of statistical data about the experiences of cyclists. The primary recommendation is that a bicyclist, as an operator of a pedal vehicle, should follow the rules of the road that are common to all vehicle types. Forester argues that behaving otherwise actually increases the likelihood of collisions with other vehicles.
Forester summarizes the rules of the road for vehicle operation in five principles:
- Use the correct half of the road, and not the sidewalk.
- Yield to other traffic as required.
- Yield when moving laterally across the road.
- Choose the correct lane and position within the lane at intersections and their approaches, based on your destination. For example, a cyclist planning to go straight through an intersection should avoid getting stuck in a right-turn-only lane, where it is easy to get clobbered by a right-turning car; a cyclist in a through-traffic lane may get a few surprised looks but will probably not get hit. Choosing the correct lane and position often involves taking the lane when the lane is not wide enough for a car and a bike side by side.
- Between intersections move away from the curb based on speed relative to other traffic and effective lane width.
Forester sums up Effective Cycling with what he calls the vehicular cycling (VC) principle: "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." This injunction is consistent with the rules of the road, which generally apply to all types of drivers of vehicles. The VC principle is often misunderstood to mean "act like you're a car". At most, it means to act like a driver of a low-powered motorcycle. Forester's injunction speaks not only to cyclist behavior but also to the way cyclists should be treated by motorists, police, and road engineers.
Forester generally opposes facilities (such as bicycle lanes) which he contends encourage behavior that is contrary to the vehicular cycling practices. This contention is challenged by those who believe that such segregated cycle facilities increase cyclist safety (or at least increase the number of bicyclists).
- Effective Cycling by John Forester, ISBN 0-262-56070-4
- John Forester's website
- "A Comparative Analysis of Bicycle Lanes Versus Wide Curb Lanes: Final Report", FHWA-RD-99-034.
- Bicycle Transportation Institute
- John S. Allen's bicycling pages, including Street Smarts
- LAB's Bike Ed program, based on the principles of Effective Cycling