From The Bicycle Book, by Bella Bathurst.
The feeling you have when you first get the hand of riding a bicycle never really goes. It doesn’t terribly matter how you learned – with your parents shouting encouragements out on the street, or by crashing your elder brother’s bike into the shrubbery, or privately, secretly, somewhere where no one could see you fall. However you learn, it always feels as if you’ve mastered the universe. You’re there, perfectly in control of your own motion, sliding through the landscape faster than you’ve ever gone before. Astride this perfectly balanced assembly of lines and curves, the world seems suddenly a place of infinite potential. There’s something about the rightness of bikes that your body always recognises whatever age you are. It recognises something that your mind may not: that bikes are really just about two things – simplicity and joy.
When I read that I thought yes, yes, yes! & then I turned the page, read this next bit, & burst out laughing.
And so, in one of those splendid perversions of which human nature is so often capable, someone went and invented racing.
I’m currently reading The Bicycle Book, by Bella Bathurst, & just couldn’t wait to post this, from Patrick Field.
Go through the traffic spreading love. In a way that’s much crueller to the idiots as well – if they come up to you going, “beep beep blah blah”, and you start swearing at them, very quickly it’s all getting a bit out of control and unstable. But also you’re giving them exactly what they wanted – to export a bit of their disappointment about the way their life turned out. Whereas if you go, “Are you having a bad day?” (in a caring voice) and you just pitch it at exactly the right point where they can’t tell whether you’re being sympathetic or taking the piss so they don’t know how to respond, you actually give them a chance to grow. Which is a bonus.
I encourage you to pledge for 30 Days of Biking. All you have to do is ride your bike every day during April.
Through rain, shine or blizzard. To the store, around the block, or 20 miles. Make it happen, then share your adventures online—via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, you name it—with our worldwide community of joyful cyclists. Hashtag #30daysofbiking.
You may be interested to know, this is why the Tweed Ride happens in April.
Most people who ride bikes have lengthy lists of things drivers do that they hate. I am no different. But on a recent afternoon riding around the city I had a lot of positive experiences with drivers, so I thought I’d mention some things.
I appreciate it when drivers cross the double yellow line to pass me. Some refuse to cross that line, but these drivers wait until it is safe to pass & then give me a safe passing distance. Thank you for that.
I appreciate it when drivers wait and make a right turn behind me. Rather than pass me & cut me off, known as a Right Hook, they take just a couple of seconds to make that turn after I’ve passed the street. No collisions, no conflicts, everyone gets where they’re going safely & happily. Thank you for that.
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, I appreciate it when drivers use their blinkers. I know this sounds so silly, but I cannot tell you how nice it is to approach an intersection & know where cars are going. I know not to pull up next to a car with it’s right blinker on. I know that the car on the other side of the intersection is going to make a left across my lane. Using turn indicators is so simple & so helpful & yet so many people don’t bother. To the drivers that do, thank you very much.
Up Delaware. Some tight spots where the snowbanks cover almost a meter of the street. Wind gusts. Bank right down Madison, cut to Pearl, to Broadway. Adventurous, I climb Clinton.
Clinton Avenue has the City of Albany’s only marked bike lanes. They are full of debris: gravel, ice, puddles, pot holes, broken glass. I have seen many cars parked in the bike lanes & more than one discarded needle but hardly ever a cyclist.
I take a left onto Henry Johnson, after watching an SUV fail to yield to three children in a crosswalk, & pedal up the overpass. The shoulder is treacherous on the best of days & today it’s occupied by a dirty snowbank & a lone pedestrian. The intersection of HJ + Central is horrendous. Why do I do this to myself?
Then I roll into Washington Park. I pull over & take photos of snow lined paths & bare trees & blue sky. Two young ladies ride by (feeling safe enough to go without helmets) & I say “hello.” People are out in small groups walking dogs & jogging & enjoying the sun & the warmth.
I can’t help but think it’s a shame that we must risk our lives crossing the ring of maniacal drivers to get to the gem that is Washington Park’s heart. This could all be so much more welcoming. A destination for people, not a shortcut for cars.
Many of these observations are negative. I mention them because they are small, they are simple, & so much good could be had so easily. I’m not asking for a miracle, just that the city put the tiniest bit of effort into making itself a less hazardous place to be a human being.