Over the last year I got really into bike-riding. I know, so fucked up. Since I have yet to generate the energy sufficient to make a practice of deleting old tweets before they can be weaponized against me, here’s a headstart for my haters.
It’s just: I exist primarily as a pedestrian, and can count on 1 hand the number of times I almost got hit by a car, and on 2 hands the number of times I almost got hit by a bike.
Always a guy in tight pants, always wearing a terrible, tiny little hat, always a messenger back slung across their back. Always apoplectic that I was so busy following the rules of the road that I didn’t notice them speeding through a red light. The nerve of me, existing.
It wasn’t just me not wanting to identify as a bike nerd that kept me from riding, it was, you know, fear of death. Cambridge streets (Boston streets in general, really) are no joke and should probably be declared illegal. There are ghosts bikes chained up everywhere. I know people who’ve been hit, doored, took a pothole and went over their handlebars and spent a month so concussed they couldn’t look at screens. It seems: bad.
But there are these Bluebikes everywhere now and parts of Mass Ave even have dedicated bike lines so one morning, as I spent 45 minutes in the cold waiting for my bus (a commute that takes 30 minutes to walk) I saw it would only take 15 minutes by bike and was like OK ! and walked away from the bus stop and haven’t been back.
It was only about a week before I bought a helmet, a full membership, a flashing light for my backpack, the whole deal. It’s embarrassing and I hate how I look but at least I get there in the timeframe I expect to get places, which does marvels for my mental health. And I haven’t completed abandoned my ideals. I stop for pedestrians. I don’t blow through red lights. I pay attention to what the cars are doing around me, rather than assuming they are paying attention to me.
The threat of death is still ever-present of course. I mean when is it not. It’s less abstract though, a thing I’m participating in, not a thing that’s just happening to me. I think about what it’ll be like if (when, right? it’s definitely when) I get doored and the bike crumbles beneath me and I sail over my handlebars. I picture myself flying for those few seconds, sailing through the air in gentle silence, usually over the side of the Mass Ave bridge, into the Charles.