There are so many things I enjoy about riding my bike, especially those first early spring rides when the trees are starting to leaf and flowers are blooming. When I’m rolling down a hill on the bike path with flowers and shrubs, trees and wild stuff on either side, there are so many different smells that go by my nose that I can’t begin to distinguish one from another. Then there’s the early morning chill when my legs are tingly and my cheeks are cool to the touch and the warm shower at the end is so welcomed. As the mornings begin to warm and the evening rides are sweatier, there is the motivation to pedal a little faster to get that breeze flowing over my helmet to keep my body temperature in check and to push to the next stop light where I can grab a sip of water before the light changes.
In the six weeks that I’ve been riding my bike back and forth to work 3 days a week I’ve seen deer, various squirrels, chipmunks, geese and I managed to slip by a skunk before it realized I was there, thank goodness. On my return trip tonight, though, I must not have been singing loud enough (yes, I sing while I ride. . .) because the squirrel didn’t hear me coming. Either that or I was singing off key and I stunned him! He quickly glanced left and then right and then he was gone but it seemed like he couldn’t decide what to do until I was just about to hit him! I can relate to how that squirrel must have been feeling.
The downside to riding my bike to work, though, is the fright I get from drivers that are too busy to notice cyclists. Fortunately I have only had one close call that caused me to seriously consider re-thinking my commute via bike. I’m not sure what I can do to keep myself safe – I stay on bike paths and/or in neighborhoods as much as possible, use blinking lights and wear bright colors. The scariest places are where the side streets cross the bike paths. Motorists speed to the intersection without any consideration for the bike path that crosses. In neighborhoods, people throw their cars into reverse and blow down the driveway without considering that there may be a cyclist on the road (let alone a child or pet). Then there are those who are on cell phones and turn across the crosswalk without looking when I have the right-of-way.
I love riding on the bike paths because of the smells, the wild life and the rolling hills. Perhaps I’d be safer riding on the shoulder of the road but I’m not so sure as a single cyclist I would be. Please talk to your families and friends and, for the sake of cyclists, ask them to slow down, be aware, and not to use their phones in the car unless they absolutely have to. These simple gestures just may save a life.