I love riding my bicycle like whoa. I love being out in the world, and feeling like I have really been everywhere I travel. You know, when you fly and there’s a layover in Chicago, even if you spend an hour there, you haven’t been to Chicago. That’s what driving is like. Just because you drive through Porter Square every day doesn’t mean you’ve been to Porter Square. But do it by bike? You’ve been there! You can slow down, walk, window shop. You feel the Porter Square breeze in breeze. You can really be there.
Besides that, gas is apparently over $3 right now, and since I got my tires changed my mileage is decreasing rapidly. I am not willing to drive around when 1. it’s just me in the car; 2. it’s still light out; and 3. exercise still provides endorphins. With all the holiday petsitting I have going on this week, I not only have the opportunity to make a little more income, but also to gain about a million endorphins. If you could count them, which I have decided you can. Please don’t correct me.
So here are some tales from the 12+ miles I rode today:
- I stopped at a light on my way out of Cambridge. There was a bicycle coming up behind me; I had seen his lights approaching when I had turned onto Mass Ave. I braced myself as I stopped at the light, and decided not to yell at him. Today, be nice! was my thought. Well! He never whizzed by me – he just stopped behind me, and when they light changed to green, we both continued on our way. I wanted to thank him, but that’s always awkward; let it be known that I flung grateful endorphins at him, at least in my mind.
- It was getting dark out, and I was well-lit (of course, because I’m amazing like that. And also I don’t want to die because a car didn’t see me.). I was taking a right on a green light, and there was a bicycle riding along the sidewalk… who rode right off the sidewalk and almost into me! Luckily, I was in a good mood, so I responded by calling (not yelling), “Hey, please watch out for other bicycles!” To which the lovely gentleman – who, by the way, did not have ANY lights – responded, “Ehhhh, shaddup!” Um, to which I responded, “No, you shut up!” and then rode away as fast as I could. He wasn’t moving very fast, but I was taking no chances with an angry Bostonian.
- I stopped at a light at a very busy intersection near our house and waiting for my green light. There was an older woman walking along the sidewalk. And then! Out of nowhere, a bicyclist on a very fancy bike in very fancy spandex FLEW THROUGH THE INTERSECTION. He did not even hesitate, or look both ways, or anything! And in my shock, I yelled (yes, this time I yelled), “It’s a red light!” He sort of waved over his shoulder, but was already gone. And before I could consider whether I was being a jerk by yelling after him, the little woman said, “Good for you, honey!”
- Lastly, I was riding along the road in the bike lane when a truck pulled out and nearly cut me off. He stopped and as I rode by, navigating around him, I said, “Thank you.” You know, for not killing me, but also for watching out and seeing me and stopping for me. And he said, “You’re welcome,” and we both meant it, and it was nice to be friendly.
I used to say that riding a bicycle in Boston was sort of like falling in love: you keep your eyes open, hold on tight, and hope you don’t get hurt. It’s not all up to you. You try to make good decisions and be smart, but you also count on other people to, you know, not slam into you with their thousands-of-pounds-of-metal-on-wheels.
Do you ride? If so, how do you deal with the rules (stop or don’t stop?), the people who interpret them differently than you (a la “the red light is just a suggestion for bicycles”), and the people traveling differently (walking, driving, skateboarding, etc.)? If you’re not riding yet, what is keeping you off the roads?
PS A few of you might have been expecting an early morning post; sorry for the delay! It had a lot to do with my inability to see the screen, but guess what! Problem solved! Here is photographic evidence, taking with the assistance of my lovely wife (featured behind my head. Thanks, wife.):