We all act out when we're scared. Cyclists too! Here are a few words from one bike enthusiast, to all of us they see on the road.
Dear pedestrians, drivers and fellow cyclists,
First of all, I need to tell you a secret: I really hate my bike.
I do. Sometimes it makes weird sounds. Sometimes it falls down when I park it just right. Sometimes my foot slips off the pedal and I hit my shin (I have more bruises on my legs than I really should, at my age).
But, most of all, I hate my bike because it makes me happy.
I get on it, and I just go. I like the feeling of wind in my face, the sight of the road in front of me. The early – morning workout as i go to the office, pedalling the blood into my brain. It’s amazing, and that just makes me hate my bike more.
You see, there’s not a single ride that goes perfectly. Sometimes, a car swipes by me so close that I feel like I’m about to fall down. Sometimes, unthinking pedestrians jaywalk right in front of me, not paying attention to the stress they cause. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to brake or swerve to avoid pets and open doors, and every one of those times is a rush of fear.
I’ve noticed I’m not the only one. We, urban cyclists, who are so concentrated on avoiding the many threats that we face – we have become a threat as well. We jump from street to sidewalk to grass to bike-path, creating chaos. No wonder other traffic participants see us as the dangerous ones!
That is why I hate my bike. I look at it, and I see the ride that is waiting for me. I feel the air whoosh, smell the gravel – and then my vision gets shattered by the honking of a horn or the screaming of an offended jogger.
This fear that causes us cyclists to act recklessly has a solution. It has more than one – from infrastructure changes like adding more bike-paths and fixing existing roads to allow for a smoother ride, to legislative measures that deal with educating all traffic participants in the role of the increasing cycling population. We CAN all get along – it might take time and effort, but it isn’t impossible.
In the meantime, there are solutions like CLARA. For a commuter like me, the CLARA vest is a miracle. I don’t have to stick to the side lines, terrified that joining a regular route might put me in danger. I am visible, and that gives me more peace of mind than I usually get on any of my rides.
Thank you, for reading, I appreciate your attention, since I usually feel as though you don’t pay me any. After all, I’m just a lonely cyclist, trying to get around town.