Possible Questions - “Possible” Answers …

Reporting road/trail conditions, accidents; Advocacy

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Possible Questions - “Possible” Answers …

Post by JamesB »

Possible Questions … “Possible” Answers …

1. Why “Possible” … ?
Because in a very real sense I’m fully aware that these, at least so far, are only my “version” of the Qs and As. They are neither more nor less than any other TS members’ thoughts or comments about safety.

2. So why the Q and As then? Weren’t things good enough before?
It would be my “personal opinion” that just like the bike maintenance clinics, it’s all about empowering and engaging those who want to be empowered and/or engaged in this membership. An informed, educated and engaged membership would be the “ideal” from my perspective - whether that’s about supporting Safety or one of our amazing Club’s special events.

Just because you know how to do certain maintenance to your bike, doesn’t mean You will always do it yourself … but it makes us an overall more rounded rider. In this case, it’s about sharing information and ideas - some very basic.

3. Wait a second, You or anyone else in this club can’t tell me how to “safely” ride a bike! … ?
As a matter of fact … that’s precisely what a club like ours has to do in order to survive! It’s mandated by Cycling BC, our club insurance and our club is doing this already - has been for years!

But you are actually right as well … by that I mean, this club nor any “rule book” can even come close to preparing you for, or addressing every possible safety scenario we might experience out on the road - it does and always has/will come down to individual decision making and bike handling.

4. This sounds like a can of worms that ought to be left alone - why the hell should we talk about safety now?

Again - my personal experience and backround - has made it abundantly clear to me and my work colleagues, that Safety - or “the accident” - doesn’t care about when You or I feel “fully ready”. It doesn’t offer the courtesy of waiting until “the right time” and it really doesn’t give a crap about what anyone can do when they are fresh and feeling 100% … it’s about how we each (and collectively) react when the shit hits the fan that matters.

5.I still don’t know … I don’t trust You - do you have a “hidden agenda” here or what?

I get this question a lot … or at very least, a number of nuanced versions of it. I guess it’s “fair territory” as I’m well aware of a/ this being a can of worms; and b/ often these decisions are made for us by a group of people like our BOD for example.

My answer is honestly quite fluid and it continues to evolve over time. I believe part of the answer is in question #4 (see above - about timing). But another part can be revealed by asking another question … “Have we as a club fully empowered and engaged our BOD in terms of Safety?”

Personally, - and again this comes from a background of working sometimes living in a culture really dedicated to Safety - why haven’t we each as members of TS signed forms exhonorating and protecting our BOD, each other and this very Club … the way many of us have and do annually with other organizations and clubs?

Not only that, but some of these clubs and organizations are super grass roots and much smaller than ours … and yet, the FIRST thing they do each and every year, is offer training to certain volunteers in specific roles and then, they have everybody sign forms/releases to achieve the maximum level of comfort in indemnifying those we care about most - our Volunteers and the friggin’ Club.

6. My head hurts and I still don’t understand - give me a tangible example of what the heck you’re talking about?

Okay - let’s imagine the scenario of a rider in a group ride falling off the bike at high speed - eg. Crash.
But lets just say the rider hits their head, cracks their helmet and when verbally “engaged” by fellow riders, isn’t making lots of sense …

Should this rider be sent off:
A - in a taxi;
B - in a car with a friend; or
C - in an ambulance?

If we as a club haven’t prepared ourselves (and this club) in advance, you’ll see all of the above and even some other versions play out in real life (we just did a few weeks ago).

But now lets ask ourselves the ugly next question …
What happens if our fellow rider (in the taxi or in the friend’s car) gets in an accident on the way home or even to the hospital and becomes a paraplegic … ?!

These are the questions clubs, companies and organizations need to consider before they commit to the answer and if you say that the answer will change with the size of the club/organization … we’re on the same page - I agree, they have to!

7. But what happens when an organization or club grows so fast that the policies and procedures (boring admin crap) haven’t kept pace with the times … ? The BOD are just friggin’ Volunteers and have lots of other life priorities and crap going on for them … we can’t expect all of this from them!?

I agree - but we still have to protect them and we still have to do “something”.

Feeling “frozen” in fear of opening a can of worms that should have been (in the ideal world) dealt with many years before now, does not take us off the hook for doing something. The can of worms just keeps getting bigger!

8. Still doesn’t feel “right” to me … I’m not comfortable.

This stuff rarely feels right or fun. It’s like doing your taxes … it’s just gotta get done! We all feel destabilized by the thought, but once we’re into it, we realize it actually ain’t so bad and if or when we stand shoulder to shoulder - it makes it a hell of a lot easier.

We might need to identify some of our “accounting nerds” (for the tax example) …

9. Okay but what gives with all these posts and You hosting this “Safety Social” … ?!

Well apparently, I’m the only one who’s been through this kinda scenario before … or maybe the only one with enough “lets try to find something that pisses everybody off” personality!

… Look … those who know me - truely know me - know I’m serious about this and it’s rooted in care for myself as your fellow rider, but also for each of You and this Club.

That part makes me normal or average like each and every other club member.

But I also know that very few people talk about “safety” in ANY context at coffee or during the rides and that quite honestly, we avoid it and maybe take it for granted.

It’s not about finger pointing … and I’m including myself and everyone else here as equals.

The chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link … and our job as members is to give our attention to the weak link. Nothing will weaken the “safety chain” more than when we start pointing fingers!

It’s about calling out the behaviour and not the individual.

The “Safety Social” is just that! Don’t go reading into it more than that! Let’s not get our tinsel in a tangle here.

When we each renewed our memberships we agreed to a rider code of conduct that gets reviewed from time to time … yeah, it was in the “fine print”.

It said we’re all responsible for safety - our own and each other’s … this Club’s.

I’m pointing out that when we show up to OBH for a morning ride and then go to coffee and we don’t talk about ride safety (eg. 99.9%) - we’re actually missing the opportunity to strengthen our club just that weee little bit … and yes, it’s a game of “inches”.

My hosting a “safety social” is by no means any kind of formal occasion … and yet, we all know it kinda IS … because when was the last time You heard of this happening?!

It’s entirely up to those who show up to lead and direct the conversation. Maybe we don’t even talk about one thing safety related … fine. NP. But likely, we’re only doing to accomplish another “wee little bit”.

To establish a “culture” within an organization or a club, you don’t set out by pulling out an old handbook once a year and then stuffing it back into a dark corner for the other 364 days … that’s not gonna earn or grow “culture”.

10. I dunno … still feels like you’re harbouring some ill will toward our BOD. What do You say to that?

I could deny this all I want, and it still won’t change all minds. But I do hope my actions will speak for themselves. That you don’t micro-manage my words and twist them against me, but see the big picture here. The one that firmly belongs to all of us in equal measure. I also believe that those who know me well, know this to be False or mis-characterization just as much as I do.

I’m willing to put up with that heat for now … I’ve clearly stuck my neck out here by a fair margin! But yeah, those nuanced comments have gotten old and pretty tired.

- If nothing else, may you appreciate the time and effort I’ve put into this so far.

The very first people I believe we need to “protect” here … is our BOD. Until we do that as a club, if I were in their shoes, I would be very uncomfortable about making unilateral decision on everyone’s behalf on a topic that has greater potential to bring this club, our BOD and it’s members to it’s knees than ANY other.

And No … we can’t just simply hand over control to a beautiful and very well intended group of volunteers either to just start or keep making decisions on our behalf. (The “sweep it under the carpet” kind of approach or “I don’t need/want to know, it’ll settle itself” approach)

The organization (or our Club) needs each of us to demonstrate a basic level of understanding about such things as: Rider behaviour; Code of conduct; and possibly even Chain of Command to name but a few. And we’ll likely need to do that annually each time we renew our memberships.

About a month ago now, I - entirely by chance - rode a Friday ride with a typical B1 group of Awesome People TSers.

Nope - not one crash.
But does that mean it was 100% safe?

Not when a rider takes out a cell phone in the paceline along Blenkinsop while photos get taken as we share the road with fellow users!

So how does something so fundamental to safety escape the understanding of our group or any one among us? You and I both know this wasn’t due to a lack of education - or any kind of deliberate negligence or ill will.

… Statistics, science and human factors all tell us that this happens all the time - we are not special. Our club is not unique here. But how we choose to address this is uniquely about our Club.

The temptation and even one common historical approach is to point the finger. Identify the individual and fix that.

But we all know that leads to disfunction, as really awkward and unfortunate conversations simply drive any potential “self-reporting” and this whole conversation, underground.

This could just as easily have been ME … it could have been You. Eventually, we all make the “Dumb Ass Mistake” have a fatigue induced “lapse in judgement”. It might come in the middle of our Tuesday boxes … or it might be 240 km into a 275 km big loop ride … in fact, it might even be on the side of the road after the initial accident or crash has happened.

We’re stressed and wanting to make the right call but we haven’t rehearsed that scenario enough yet so the decision doesn’t exactly come naturally or maybe follow established directions and guidelines we might have found in some dusty club document called an EAP … Emergency Action Plan.

Part of me wants to apologize for such long winded posts … but I hope you also appreciate that I won’t!

Some things are not quick and simple conversations.

We each need to demonstrate a basic respect and level of understanding to the importance and the complexity of what it means for our BOD to be making these decisions on our behalves.

An enhanced code of rider behaviour tells us each what we are going to do in our rides, just as much as the release and indemnification waiver tells everyone, what we won’t do to our Volunteers/Each other - and this, because we want to protect our Club.

No conversation is ever “complete”.
No such thing as Perfection in conversations, posts or even policies … all change and evolve over time.

But we gotta start somewhere - and that “somewhere” is precisely where we all are right NOW.
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