Blog / 2011 / November / Cycling Education
November 8, 2011
Cycling Education
           
by Jordan Updike   |   0 COMMENTS

The number of close calls to serious injury I've had in the last 2 months would make my mother shudder. No, I haven't started a career as a firefighter.

 

I've become a commuting cyclist.

 

It might be a little crazy, but I recently moved downtown and sold my car to leave my traveling capacity dependent on our woefully-underfunded transit system and the act of deftly balancing my weight on two wheels whilst trusting the 2-ton machine-drivers behind me are paying enough attention so as not to turn me into human roadkill (Place paper down. Type "vlogbrothers biking rant" into youtube. Laugh. Empathize. Return to article.).

 

My first motorless day I was riding on the New York Street bike lane when a driver cut into the bike lane, slammed on its brakes, changed his mind and drove across the bike lane again for good measure, almost hitting me. Twice. When I caught up to the guy, he was both painfully unaware and mortified he'd nearly caused human damage.

 

Death by gormless plonker [read: clueless idiot] is one thing, but scarier still is the intentionally homicidal driver.

 

A few weeks ago I paused at the stop sign in Lockerbie Square - perhaps one of the quietest, most genteel neighborhoods downtown - when this guy zoomed up behind me and - without stopping himself - swerved towards my bike, his middle finger in the air. I caught up to him a block later and start discussing the intricacies of Indiana cycling laws.

 

"YOU DON'T OWN THE ROAD" he yells, as if that completely validates his behavior.

I loudly disagree with his moral choice to be intentionally and illegally dangerous.

"I USED TO BE A CYCLIST," he says.

"APPARENTLY NOT A VERY GOOD ONE," I say.

He zooms away, finger in the air.

 

These folks are more prevalent than any Midwest city should boast.

It's hard to feel the Hoosier Hospitality I know we possess when this is my almost daily cycling experience. You can't print the things I hear shouted at legally riding cyclists nearly every day.

 

Don't get me wrong, this isn't all on automobile drivers. We've all seen the delivery guy flying around the blind corner, or the hapless low rider riding the wrong way down a one-way biking lane. More than one cyclist has told me stories of being targeted by officers for some of the more archaic biking laws on the Indiana books. I often have to remind myself of the importance of following ALL traffic law on a bicycle, even when it seems impractical to do so.  If I am riding my bicycle illegally, I am putting myself and others at great risk.

 

Yes, thank you Mayor Ballard and Andy Lutz for great work putting in the bike lanes.

 

But it's not enough to build lanes and hubs… if we're going to be a bicycle-friendly city on par with Minneapolis, Portland, Boulder or New York, we have GOT to change the culture of this city. That's not an easy task, but no matter who serves as our next mayor, it's absolutely essential that we have a city-wide push to educate cyclists, police and drivers on the art of co-existing.

 

My life depends on it.

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