LCI Spotlight: Laura Davidson Brienza
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.
Learning to ride a bike opens up a whole new world of freedom and opportunities to explore the outdoors and your community! For Laura Davidson Brienza of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the joy she found exploring the outdoors on her bike inspired her to enable others to ride. “Those are still my favorite things about being on a bike: the strength I feel, the access to the outdoors, the connections, the feeling of calmness and freedom, and most importantly, the joy,” she says.
Our work to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone – where more people can experience the freedom and joys of bicycling – is only made possible through the support of our network of nearly 7,000 League Cycling Instructors, who work tirelessly with their communities and their local businesses, bike clubs and universities to get more people safely and confidently riding bikes. We look forward to continuing to share their stories through our LCI spotlight series in 2023. Find our earlier LCI Spotlights in our blog archives.
Know an LCI who should be featured in 2023? Nominate a stellar bike educator here!
ARE THERE BIKE GROUPS YOU’RE A PART OF LOCALLY?
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU ENJOY TEACHING OTHERS TO BIKE.
My love for bike education began in graduate school when I took a summer job as the coordinator for Bike Pittsburgh’s summer youth cycling program and quickly realized I had a passion for helping kids access the joy and freedom of riding a bike. When I was hired as a school counselor at the Environmental Charter School District, I teamed up with the physical education teachers to start BikeECS. Since 2018, BikeECS has provided an outdoor cycling program during the school day as part of the 6th grade PE curriculum, so that every student in the district learns how to ride in the city, with many learning to ride for the first time. Thanks to grants and partnerships at the local, national, and federal levels, we now have fleets of bikes at our upper elementary, middle, and high schools. I am now the BikeECS Coordinator and continue to enhance the district’s PE, after-school, and small-group cycling programming to provide students with opportunities to ride and access the physical and social-emotional benefits of riding a bike.
Since becoming an LCI earlier this year, I have also started my own business to help people feel confident riding a bike and experience more fun, freedom, and mental wellness. With Cycology, I teach private instruction and group classes, as well as organize rides and events in the community. With my background in mental health, I enjoy teaching bike skills because it empowers children and adults alike to tap into their mental and physical strength, develop healthy coping skills, create connections, and have fun.
I grew up in Western Pennsylvania in a family that instilled the values of enjoying outdoor activities. I started bike commuting at the University of Pittsburgh, and then after spending time commuting in San Diego and becoming a road cyclist in rural North Carolina, I made my way back to Pittsburgh. I love to ride up Pittsburgh’s hills, take joy rides with my husband, friends, or family in our beautiful parks and trail systems, and have just started getting into bike racing with a women+ community in Pittsburgh. When I’m not riding or spending time outdoors, I love to cozy up with a cup of tea and a good book, bake and/or eat all the sourdough bread, and take local and distant adventures with family and friends.
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 connections with local LCIs and find your trusted mentor(s). Even if you feel intimidated by how experienced they are, I hope you’ll find that they are generous in their support as you get started. Most people who love bikes, love to help others love bikes. I will forever be thankful to the LCIs and bike education leaders in Pittsburgh that I have the opportunity to work with (and ask so many questions!) especially in this first year as an LCI.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU THINK THAT ALL LCIS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
I believe all LCIs should prioritize inclusive spaces. Do your own work on where you can do better personally and where your community can improve. Then get out there to change the world of cycling. Our Black, brown, trans and non-binary riders, as well as women and girls, and riders of all body sizes, deserve to hold space in the cycling world, and as leaders in bike education, we must prioritize this.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING ON A BIKE?
In college, I acquired a used green bike to get to class faster, and then quickly discovered it was so much more than that! When I rode my bike I felt strong, confident, and calm during the stress and anxiety of young adulthood. I also realized my bike provided me with the power of agency to take myself all around the city, as well as the opportunity to access the beautiful green parks and river trails. Mostly, being on a bike was fun, and I felt happy.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM BEING ON A BIKE?
A particularly memorable one as a youth bike educator is gleefully belting out Whitney Houston with a 7th-grade girl as she finished an impressive 50-mile ride to end our summer program, after having just learned to ride 4 weeks prior!
GIVE US AN INTERESTING OR FUNNY FACT ABOUT YOU.
I was sent to a “penalty box” during my first long-course triathlon for riding next to my friend on the bike course and celebrating with her. I’ve since learned the rules for passing on Ironman-sanctioned races, and even better, I learned in my LCI training that I can ride two abreast on most roads and do all the celebrating of my friends, students, and clients that I want!