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LCI Spotlight: Brenda Yancor
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 share the stories of League Cycling Instructors doing what they do daily: 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.
We love to hear about League Cycling Instructors going above and beyond the call of duty in order to get people of all ages and backgrounds on bikes! Meet Brenda Yancor, our LCI in the spotlight this month.
Brenda spreads her bike skill expertise across the Los Angeles, California, region, working with several active transportation groups, including as a senior community engagement manager for BikeLA and partnering with Walk ‘N Rollers to promote Safe Routes to School and host bike safety rodeos. Brenda has also been a go-to LCI for Santa Monica Spoke’s summer bike camp program and Sustainable Streets’ Adult Learn to Ride classes.
Her nomination reads, “Brenda is an excellent teacher and LCI. She is a very active LCI within the community, working full-time and even teaching in English and Spanish to reach more Los Angeles residents. Brenda travels all over our large county to conduct Metro “Best” classes for adults and Bike Club meetings at middle schools, in addition to scouting and curating interesting bike rides for the public. Whether through her focus on equity and getting youth outdoors in nature or how she genuinely engages her students, Brenda is a passionate and inspiring LCI and advocate.”
Read more about Brenda below. Know an inspiring LCI we should feature next? Nominate a stellar bike educator here!
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU ENJOY TEACHING OTHERS TO BIKE.
I started biking to get around town in my mid-20s, mainly to aid in my 30-mile commute across Los Angeles County that took two hours one way on public transit. Riding as an adult after having last ridden a bike at around eight years old wasn’t easy. I lacked balance, handling skills and a mechanical understanding of the inevitable problems that would arise on my thrifted bike. As I searched on the internet for the do’s and don’ts of urban cycling, I noticed the need to share best practices (like riding with instead of against traffic) with other cyclists I’d see on the road. I would take note that most of the cyclists I saw riding against traffic (just like I did when I started riding again) didn’t wear helmets or spandex and had thrifted bikes just like me.
I then connected with volunteer advocacy groups in Los Angeles working directly with low-income cyclists of color who used bikes as their main mode of transportation, and I started to teach about traffic laws and best practices accompanied by a group ride. In Hollywood and near downtown LA, we would meet up at day labor centers – gathering places for workers who get paid one day at a time – and talk about our experiences riding in LA.
I have now spent a decade working with folks to improve their handling skills with on-bike drills, leading neighborhood bike rides, and teaching children and adults how to ride a bike for the first time. The feeling of accomplishment I see on a student’s face when they successfully scan behind them, complete their first group ride, or pedal for the first time is what keeps me coming back to this work. Helping people feel empowered and confident in their ability to propel themselves forward while doing something that’s fun and good for the planet is such a special thing to be a part of!
WHAT FIRST MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME AN LCI?
In 2013, I had been doing bike advocacy work for about three years when the opportunity to become an LCI through a grant program was presented to me. I jumped at the chance to learn more about what it takes to be a certified instructor and be the person to support others in feeling empowered along their bike journey. Being certified to do something I found fun and fulfilling is something I’m grateful for 10 years later.
Learn how to get more involved in cycling education in the Smart Cycling section of our website.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REWARD IN TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION.
I never imagined that my interest in bicycle safety and education would allow me to make a living out of teaching others how to be safe on their bike. In 2019 I was hired by BikeLA (formerly the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition) to administer an after-school bike club program at the second-largest school district in the nation. I collaborated with administrators at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to come up with assessment tools that would allow us to work with students and ultimately take them out on rides in their neighborhoods. Being able to work with students to ride in their communities for the first time felt amazing, especially with students who learned to ride during our program! Although that grant and my time at BikeLA have now ended, I feel so fortunate to have managed three other LCIs while working with 11 schools and hundreds of students and teachers across the LA region.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR AN LCI WHO WANTS TO TEACH A CLASS BUT ISN’T SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?
Make friends with other LCIs! I feel like I have learned so much from other instructors I have met on my advocacy journey. Networking is really important in any field, but especially so for the type of work that we do.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU THINK THAT ALL LCIS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
I think people ride bikes because they’re fun (duh, right?). So I think our classes and lessons should embrace that fun as much as possible. In my work with middle schoolers at LAUSD, I came up with a lot of games and interactive activities that incorporated the standard curriculum. Don’t be afraid to create a lesson plan, practice in front of a mirror, and make the material your own. I always learn a lot from my students as well, so remember that learning and teaching is a two-way street.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING ON A BIKE?
I love the active meditation aspect of being on a bike, especially on long bike rides in scenic places. I love that all you’re responsible for is the pedaling motion and being aware of what’s going on around you. I wish that cycling was safer for everyone so that people can be more at peace while they ride, especially folks in historically under-invested areas where traffic violence is rampant.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM BEING ON A BIKE?
When I was biking through the Sierras in Mexico, there was a day of intense climbing. As I pedaled my way through the day, the road brought me higher and higher, closer to a cloud I had been staring at for what seemed like hours. I eventually got to the highest point on the road and was head-to-head with that cloud. It was so exhilarating to feel close to the sky, and the downhill that followed was definitely its own reward.
GIVE US AN INTERESTING OR FUNNY FACT ABOUT YOU.
I had an amazing opportunity in 2012 to use my bike to get from Los Angeles to Guatemala. I took off from SoCal with a group of friends, and we meandered our way south (via Baja California), with the help of buses here and there, a ferry across the Gulf, and lots of friendly people. From an unbalanced rider to an international bikepacker – I’m living proof of how far a bike can take you!