I Found My Bike!

Bicycles. I like to ride mine. It’s fun, centering, gets the blood flowing, exercise inducing and revelatory. There is peace on them thar pedals

I don’t get overly serious about it, so not to spoil my fun. I mean some things look just swell in lycra, but I’m not one of those things. I was very proud that I recently conquered a height fear and rode across a bridge into Canada. A few close friends do it all the time, but for me, a big deal.

Celebrated with coffee and a doughnut on the other side, but I digress. A meeting that I missed about planning on Buffalo’s east side ignited a thread on Facebook about bikes, bike helmets as well as who owns the road. The meeting was talking about a highway that was shoved and divided a neighborhood that didn’t have the political muscle a couple generations ago to be afforded consideration.

The discussion thread on Facebook started in discussing the differences about helmets, bike cultures in other countries and the like. One of the things the thread revealed to me was the existing biases about road traffic.

The thread resonated as over the summer I was out riding, in a bike lane, to meet two close friends who have deepened my love of pedal power through encouragement. I was in the bike lane, not sneaking through traffic, and a yahoo traveling in a car heading in the other direction cowardly yelled at me to “get on the sidewalk!” For the uninformed, that’s not where bikes ought to be with regularity. I sneak here and there, but I don’t make a habit of it as walkers and strollers get the sidewalks and prolonged bike existence there is a huge hazard.

I don’t know why said yahoo had an issue as I was traveling in the right direction in the proper lane. It’s funny to think that the painted white lines are the only things preventing bumper cars is painted white lines, but everybody is sure possessive about their share.

We can all be better. I think on that point, everybody can agree. I’m not so sure most motorists could pass a road test if they had to on given day. Red lights get run all the time. Stop signs get ignored or get a token slowing down, and for some people, keeping your car full of juice to run the turn signals is a tall order. Don’t get me started on the various definitions of “yield” I see on a daily basis.We are guilty (myself, included) of being the people George Carlin talked about: “There’s nobody going my speed!”

We seem to be a vortex that our own chosen path is the sole consideration, but it’s not a video game. I see the warnings to remember the motorcyclists when the weather improves. I also see if you stand at a busy street corner, you can see a number of drivers looking at their phones waiting for the light to change. Not all bike riders are pure either. Just like motorists, foolish selfish chances can get taken, but also just like motorists, the majority do attempt to follow the rules of the road. But we pedalers are allowed to proceed at the red traffic light if nothing is going on. Don’t be a hater as you burn fossil fuels in your Excursion. Hell, some pedestrians can’t cross the street without completing a phone conversation or updating their Facebook status.

And none of us are supposed to what we want. We are not supposed to be in a hierarchy of who gets to do what. Bike riders have been sold a bill of good about helmets. While the helmets help for certain injury situations, we have drunk the Kool-Aid so hard that folks are shamed about their use. In full disclosure, I wear one. I hate it.

It’s uncomfortable and makes me look like the Great Gazoo, but putting it on was my choice. It’s not a good look, making my cheeks look like a rain gutter for the bags under my eyes. I’d much rather let what’s left of my locks feel the breeze, but I’m on my own journey, NOT YOURS.

A friend reported on that on a trip to Europe, Holland specifically, that bikes are more numerous, and helmets aren’t as abundant, because there isn’t an automotive hierarchy. It’s not cars first. It’s a road and we all need to share and contribute and be aware that we are not the only people inhabiting it.

It’s a big road and there is room for everybody.


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