Opinion: The challenges of cycling safely
Here where I live, in the Big Smoke, The City on the White River, The Stoplight in the Middle of the Cornfields … okay, here in Indianapolis, we are being overtaken by bicycles. Sort of. OK, let’s just say there are more of them on the street than there used to be.
On the surface, this is a good thing. More people riding their bikes hither and yon means less pollution and a healthier populace. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, I am all in favor of breathable air and good health.
Anyway, beneath the surface there lurks a problem with all these two-wheelers on the road, and I have a bone to pick with bicyclists … namely, if they don’t start paying attention to the traffic laws, I’ll be picking their bones out of my truck grille.
Twice in one recent day I had bicyclists ignore red lights to ride through intersections directly in front of me. Twice. One time, and I would have chalked it up to simple stupidity. Twice, and the stupidity is no longer simple.
Or maybe it was the full moon.
Whatever the reason, I add these incidents to the list of dumb bicyclist moves I have seen this spring – ignoring stop signs (I think they were related to the two morons in the preceding paragraph), riding through the automatic doors and into a grocery store (the Schwinn version of those goofballs who used to grocery shop in their rollerblades) and my all-time personal favorite, riding against the flow of traffic. Did someone forget to tell these goobers that even riding a bike requires a little common sense?
Now, as I indicated, I am not anti-bicycle. See above under fresh air and good health. See also in my garage, where I have a big old beach cruiser that I love to ride. OK, so I only do it once a year, and then the next day my legs hurts and I ask myself what I was thinking, but that’s beside the point. I still think bicycles are great and I am more than happy to share the road with them.
And neither do I absolve motorists from guilt. I have seen some atrocious drivers come close to taking out bicyclists this year. Most were simply not paying attention, but one that will forever live in memory was driving along with two wheels in the bike lane off to the right hand side of the street, honking because two bikes – you know, the vehicles who use the lane LEGALLY – were apparently taking up a section of street he felt entitled to as he sped to the coming intersection for a right turn.
Moron motorists will always outnumber moron bicyclists because there are so many more cars than bikes. This makes it even more imperative that bicyclists not ride with their helmeted (sometimes) heads where the sun doesn’t shine. Somebody has to be paying attention.
I really speak to this from the perspective of the motorcyclists. I’ve had a few close calls with morons in cars on that kind of two wheeler, but I avoided mishap. I credit my training, which basically taught me to keep my head in the appropriate sunshiny place.
So watch out for bicycles, motorists. Watch out for cars, bicyclists. Everybody stop being goobers. And be careful when the moon is full.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.