Tag Archives: bike commuting

Contemplate This While I’m Breathing Your Exhaust

Now and then as I’m cycling along the streets of Atlanta, a motorist will honk at me. I can see only two reasons for this:

1. I look so fetching in that styrofoam helmet, you just couldn’t resist blaring your Danger! signal at my sexy abs. Thanks for sharing.

2 (and more likely). You don’t like that my slow-moving bicycle is taking up space on your precious asphalt.

There are a few reasons that I might be riding in the road, other than the sadistic pleasure of pissing you off.

Atlanta’s sidewalks are entirely unpredictable. They’re often cracked and broken, or have huge holes or strange things drilled into them. Those handy street signs you’re so fond of are often jutting out of the middle of the sidewalk. Same goes for those huge, lovely historic-looking streetlamps. I love trees, even sticking out of the middle of a sidewalk. But they sure aren’t fun to bicycle around.

Sometimes there are no sidewalks. Or the sidewalk has just ended or is about to end. Or they are preceded by an enormous curb that I am not skillful enough to jump. Its not quite as easy as jumping curbs in your LandRover. Nest time you angrily point to the sidewalk, check to see if, you know, THERE IS ACTUALLY A SIDEWALK.

Riding on the sidewalks is dangerous. I know that you don’t care. I have inconvenienced you. You have to pass me and add five seconds to your commute so you would laugh heartily to see my innards spread across the concrete. Just the same, I’m attached to my innards (pun intended). Cars pull out of driveways and look left-right-left onto the road before turning onto it. Motorists don’t look for fast moving objects coming on sidewalks. They often don’t look at sidewalks at all and just consider them part of the driveway. That’s okay, I want them to get a good look around before they turn. I’m considerate that way. But I do know that there are lots of driveways on most roads and that this is a great way to get hit by a car. How do I know this, you ask? Because I was hit by a car this way. I’m hoping you’ll see me in your massive Suburban Assault Vehicle.

Did I mention that cycling on sidewalks is illegal? Cyclists must follow the same rules of the law as cars. While you may drive on the sidewalk, most people think that’s a no-no. Would you risk getting a ticket to avoid inconveniencing me?

What is all this hostility about, anyway? Do you honk at slow-driving old ladies? How about schoolbuses, with their annoyingly frequent stops? I bet you get a kick out of blaring your horn at Postal trucks. They have no business on the road, slow as they are.

No, no, of course I’m not like those people; I’m a public menace. I took the easy way out, bicycling to get around. Sure, I could have invested all my surplus income in a car and bought a gym membership for exercise, like a normal person. But no. I insist on smelling the flowers and the smog and the pizza joints and your exhuast. I insist on using my body to power up hills. I insist on seeing my city as I move through it, instead of in a bubble. I insist on boycotting fuel because –no matter whether you’re politics are left or right — everyone know s we could afford to be less dependent on foreign fuel.

Really, I can’t imagine how these things are so offensive to you. I don’t mind if you pass me, I really don’t. If you really don’t want to see cyclists on the streets, lobby for more bicycle lanes. But if seeing me on the road gets you all riled up, maybe you’re a bit too tense. You could use a good bike ride.