I Am Afraid To Ride My Bike

Have you ever been asked that question when telling someone that you like to cycle?
“I would be afraid to ride my bike in traffic!”
It is a scary thing to ride your bike on the road, sharing the space with cars. And it’s not like you’re sharing the space. The cyclist is given a small sliver of road to stay within. Within this small sliver are potholes (because road crews only fix the areas cars drive in), steep embankments, all sorts of twigs and limbs, and of course, trash that the cars throw from their windows while cruising along. Now add to the mix a bunch of sleep deprived, texting, cell phone talking, eating in the car, driver and that is one hell of a recipe for death and dismemberment.
I will say that for the most part drivers are courteous. I even had one person follow patiently behind me on a two lane road because they couldn’t get around. They didn’t honk. They didn’t ride my ass. When the road cleared they went around and politely waved to me. These types actually outnumber the others. You know the type. They blare their horns when behind you, or as they come alone side of you. They try to get as close as possible to you without hitting you, just to let you know you are in their way.  Then you have those that will stick their head’s out of the window and yell at you, usually “Get off the Damn Road”, or “Get on the sidewalk”. The best thing they yell is “I didn’t even see you”. Seriously? Maybe if you took your face away from the phone you’d see the bright orange bike jersey immediately in front of your bumper.
Actually, if they beep or yell, that’s not too much of a problem, because at least that means they actually see you. These are not the ones that hit you. It’s those people so engrossed in what their BFF just texted them that they never look up until they feel the thump and you’re flying 20 feet down the road into the pavement.
And why is it that the majority of the people yelling and beeping are on the extreme ends of the spectrum? They’re either in expensive, leather interior monsters that they’ve spent so much money on for comfort that they cannot be in them for the 20 seconds more it will be by waiting for you to cross, or they are in multi-colored, confederate flag bearing, pick up trucks that are worth less than the bike you are riding. They actually had a town councilman in a place near where I ride in Tampa (for the hills … those of you from this area know the city I am speaking of) that stated IN THE PAPER that cyclists on their roads are “open season” and are no more than “hood ornaments”.
Now, I know we are not perfect. I can understand some of the councilman’s irritation because I have witnessed groups of A riders in packs taking up the whole street. They are not following the rules either. There are many of us out there that ride through stop signs, and stop lights, or cruise through a school zone at 25 mph when the posted limit is 20 mph. We forget that we are also operating a moving vehicle and must follow the same rules as the cars. But to publicly announce open season? Jesus.
Anyway, as a group, we should never be afraid to ride our bikes. If we use caution, follow the rules, and drive defensively, most of the time we will be alright. There will be accidents. There will be injuries, but I have seen crashes and injuries inside parks also. The important thing is to ride. As much as possible. 
We are Fat Slow Triathletes … 
… and We Will Be Reckoned With

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