I enjoy riding my bike, and I am well aware of the benefits to my health and the environment. Often times, I feel like I am a nuisance to motorists. They will speed by me, and sometimes they come within inches of hitting me. As if I am an obstacle in the road. Like a tire or some trash they have to avoid on their way to their prized destination. My first thought is anger, but then I am struck with sorrow. How can this person not see that I am a person? How can their destination mean more than a human life?
Riding my bike keeps me healthy. I shop light and make frequent trips to the grocery store during the week. It gives me a chance to get off the couch and interact with my community. If I decide to get some fast food, I don’t feel as guilty if I pedal a mile or two for it. Cycling also keeps my mind healthy. When I ride, I am only thinking about my surroundings. To borrow a quote from “The Daily Show,” it is my moment of Zen. Everything seems to fade away as I focus on the music in my earphones and the fresh smell of the morning air.
Due to zoning laws and city regulations, a vehicle requires more space than a domicile. This means we have more space on our planet dedicated to vehicles than we have for living and recreation. There are more roads and parking spaces than there are parks or homes. That car you drive does not only spew noxious fumes into our precious air, it takes space away that could go to a tree, a swing, or a bed. If people would choose to ditch their car for a bike, think about the impact that would have on our environment.
Maybe cycling isn’t for you. I am not writing this to convince anybody to ride a bike. I want people to see cyclists on the road as so much more than an obstacle. Cyclists are making a conscience choice to improve their health and reduce their carbon footprint. This is a benefit for our community that should be recognized. Next time you see a bicycle on the road, try not to see an obstacle, but a person who has a destination and people who are waiting for them to arrive safely. See a person who is doing their part to make a positive impact and give them a hug.
John J. Gilmore
LaFetra College of Education