Yesterday marked the one month anniversary of my return to bike commuting, encompassing five whole commutes (home to work) and one partial (dentist office to work). I am approximately 10 pounds lighter than when I started, and some of my pants are feeling a little looser in the waist (I think the only fat on my body is in my midsection, anyway, so there is where I’m going to lose it). I have not been hit by a vehicle, pedestrian, tree limb, or insect during any ride. Not that there haven’t been a couple of distracted drivers not quite paying attention to the guy in the bright yellow jacket and lit up like a Christmas tree, but most have given me adequate clearance.
Yesterday, Carolyn made a point to mention news of two bicyclists who were killed by hit-and-run drivers last Friday. I understand her concern for me, as I ride among the cars during morning and evening commutes, but I insist that I can take care of myself on the road, that I am acutely, painfully aware of all the cars that approach from whatever direction. The woman killed in Royal Oak and dragged 100 feet was riding down a 6-lane main thoroughfare at 1:30 AM. Was she dressed visibly? Did she have lights? What the hell was she riding on Woodward for in the first place? There are sidewalks there, and probably few pedestrians (not being the bar district). Was the other person killed riding safely? Wearing a helmet? My guess is that these people were riding without regard for cars and without regard for their own safety, like most kids I see. I have seen people riding in the wrong lane against the flow of traffic. I see many without helmets. I see some wearing headphones. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I maintain that I am perfectly safe as long as I follow the traffic laws (as I am required to as a vehicle on the road), keep visible and predictable, and be prepared for drivers to do the wrong thing.
I urge my two girls to weat their helmets (and shoes) whenever they go out riding, even around the block. I am sometimes successful. What was I expecting? I never wore a helmet when I was their age (I’m not sure they even made children’s helmets thirty years ago). I’m sure I rode barefooted, and I don’t remember getting a light until I was a teenager, although they existed (and were required by most municipalities for night riding). I’m older and certainly wiser now, and I don’t really care who thinks I’m a geek as I pedal past with an LED headlamp and a blinking red taillight mounted to my helmet. If they think I’m a geek for wearing fluorescent orange shirts and shorts with reflective trim, then they must have seen me, right? Mission accomplished.
Yep, I’m a bike geek. Just add that to my geek repertoire, alongside engineer, trombone player, photographer, graphic artist, and computer nerd. There’s more where that come from.