LCI Spotlight: Kat Volzer
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.
Meet our latest League Cycling Instructor in the spotlight: Kat Volzer, director of programming for White Oak Bicycle Coop (WOBC) and board member of Chattanooga Bicycle Club and Bike Walk Tennessee. WOBC is a community organization located in Red Bank Tennessee that takes in donated bikes, repairs them, and redistributes them with a focus on giving bikes to low-income and minority populations.
WOBC pairs the League’s Smart Cycling bike education curriculum with its bicycle giveaways and earn-a-bike programs so that those who receive bikes know how to ride them safely. Just last month, WOBC partnered with the Northside Neighborhood House’s after-school program to offer a Smart Cycling course to five Red Bank High School students. After successful completion of the course, which teaches skills such as scanning, signaling, turning, proper helmet fitting, and how to do a pre-ride safety check, each student earned their very own bicycle and helmet.
Kat, who led the course and has taught hundreds of kids across the Greater Chattanooga area how to ride bikes, has learned that “most of the time, kids don’t realize that there are a lot of different ways to ride bikes and different skills to learn.” Abby McCullough, one of the students who completed the course, shared that her biggest lesson learned from the program was the ABC Quick Check.
“I understood that you need to check the air on your bike, but I had no idea how important it is to check the brakes or the chains, cranks, or cogs before each ride,” said Abby. “That’s why it’s important for young people to get into biking education because some may not know exactly what to do when checking whether or not their bike is safe to ride. Also, they would be a lot safer when riding if they knew the biking laws they should be following.”
The League is proud to have LCIs like Kat out spreading the joys of smarter cycling across communities!
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU ENJOY TEACHING OTHERS TO BIKE.
I love teaching kids how to ride bikes and ride smart because I love sharing and inspiring all the different ways to ride. I love witnessing a light bulb go off in a child’s brain when they learn what you can do on a bike or with a bike. When I’m not riding bikes or teaching others, I’m usually hanging out with my husband Jake, chasing our five-year-old son Heath around, or yelling at our two crazy dogs Waffles and Chicken.
WHAT FIRST MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME AN LCI?
I first heard about the LCI program while volunteering with a bike co-op in Atlanta in 2012. Fast forward to 2017, and the Chattanooga Bicycle Club paid for a scholarship for me to take the class here in Chattanooga. Fast forward again to 2018, when I decided to make it my job!
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR AN LCI WHO WANTS TO TEACH A CLASS BUT ISN’T SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?
PARTNERSHIP. It’s really hard to do this by yourself and to get people excited about bike safety sometimes. By partnering with organizations with a captive audience of kids or people you want to serve, you can expand your reach. I’ve had some great partners throughout the years and have taught in some unlikely places – which always make for the best stories and experiences!
TELL US ABOUT HOW THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN WHITE OAK BICYCLE COOP AND RED BANK HIGH SCHOOL WAS FORMED.
That’s a really wild story. Before White Oak Bicycle Coop, I worked for the Collegedale Police Department under a grant for bicycle and pedestrian safety from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO). Through a series of dramatic events and administration turnover, the police department basically quit the program and the grant this past August. From my understanding, it was actually the largest bicycle safety education program in Tennessee. Fortunately, THSO saw the value in this program and allowed me to continue my work through a different organization. I chose White Oak Bicycle Coop.
Before I officially started working at WOBC, I partnered with them on a few events and projects. I saw how many bikes they were giving away and said ‘hey, let me go with these bikes and do safety education so we’re not giving away machines of death.’ The partnership between Red Bank HS and Northside Neighborhood House was also a previous partner that I worked with before coming to WOBC, who of course, heard of my work through other partners and word of mouth.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU THINK THAT ALL LCIS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
When working with kids, be able to go with the flow and adapt quickly. You’re not always going to be teaching in the most ideal situation and something almost always goes wrong. Plan, prepare, get ready to change that plan, and have a LOT of patience, especially with kids.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING ON A BIKE?
Exploration. I’ve seen a lot of this country by bike, and there’s an endless amount of things and places to explore. From slowing down in your own neighborhood and noticing things off the beaten path, to exploring rural roads and backcountry trails all over the southeast– you can just discover more by bike. I’ve seen some pretty wacky things, have met the most interesting people, and have had the most fun by bike!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM BEING ON A BIKE?
There are so many! I love bikepacking and touring, and it always makes for good memories, especially with friends. On our first bike tour on the Silver Comet trail we rode 65 miles, camped for the night, and then rode back the next day on some ancient, janky bikes. My friends pulled their wiener dog in a trailer that was held together with duct tape. Needless to say, the trailer didn’t survive the long haul, and my friend had to ride quite a way with the dog stuffed in her shirt.
Know an LCI we should feature? Nominate a stellar bike educator here!
GIVE US AN INTERESTING OR FUNNY FACT ABOUT YOU.
Sometimes I weave stories of my life on a bike into stories for children and just recently published my first children’s book, to be released later this year. Also, before I played bikes all day, I played soccer all day as an NCAA DII athlete.