Each day I ride my bike I’m putting my body (and maybe my life) in the hands of strangers driving 2-ton vehicles. It’s an odd feeling to be in such a vulnerable position.
When I began riding to work last year I was scared of traffic for the first couple of weeks. I stayed as far off the road as possible and seldom rode with traffic. As I got into better shape and felt more confident in my riding skills, I began riding at speeds where I could often keep up with traffic, at least through town.
I continued to ride in the bike lane when one existed. But when there was none, I inched my way further onto the road making it easier for drivers to see me. There’s a fine line here because I don’t want to slow traffic behind me, but I also have every right to use the road.
Unfortunately not everyone understands that cyclists have that right. (At least in the State of WA)
But I’m not going to focus on that today because most people I share the road with are kind and courteous. Many go out of their way to make my ride safe by slowing down when the road narrows or yielding a turn to me when they don’t have to. Metro bus drivers, for the most part, have been very kind. Seems like each week one waits for me to pass before making a right turn that would cause me to react quickly, which can be a problem given the amount of rain we receive.
I’ve enjoyed getting to meet a number of people I wouldn’t have had I been in my car including people in my own neighborhood. Many of them smile and wave as I ride by alone or with my kids.
So I had been feeling pretty good about cycling up until about a month ago when I crashed while riding in the rain. I was riding through town and failed to notice a steel plate in the road that becomes slippery in the rain. My bike ended up taking the brunt of the damage, while my leg had a few cuts and scrapes.
A group of teens were crossing the street and witnessed the crash, and came running towards me. One of them lifted my bike off me while the other two helped me to the sidewalk. I was still a bit dazed, and they stayed with me until they felt I was OK.
The scabs on my leg are gone and my bike has been repaired. But I decided to take a couple of weeks off from riding to work. I didn’t expect my confidence to be shaken, but it was. A few times I did get on my bike but I didn’t venture far from home and certainly didn’t ride off the hill and into town where the crash happened.
Although it’s been cold and rainy this past week I decided to ride to work twice. But I really didn’t notice the rain or the cold very much because I was so happy to be back on my bike.