To be on a bicycle bestows a sense of freedom and enjoyment to the individual cyclist. Bicycling in the United States is a challenging undertaking in which to engage. The dynamic of bicycling has changed over the years. Having bicycled in several cities shows that the cyclist ‘must’ be in control of the ride. Necessity and objective are guidelines that currently mandate reasons for riding. To ride a bicycle is to be fearless or foolish in observing a desire to be kind to the earth.
Personally, riding a bicycle has always provided a sense a freedom and accomplishment. To appreciate the power of individual physical capacity is to convey oneself via that capacity. Much of adult life is to harness ‘oneself’ to the conveniences that, ultimately, detach ‘them’ from their own physical capabilities. Observing the drivers of the sundry vehicles on the road inspires both respect and sorrow. To see the impatience that pervades within the majority of drivers causes thoughts of “if only these people would convey themselves by bicycle just one day out of the week” . . . if only. Yet so many are bound to schedules and obligations that can be met only with the assistance of a vehicle.
The United States, in general, is not a nation that gives autonomy to bicyclists. The League of ‘American / U.S.A.’ Bicyclists findings highlight the importance of safe cycling infrastructure in order to encourage more cyclists and make the activity less dangerous. As stated in a press release from the League: “The United States is 40 years behind peer countries in Europe when it comes to developing bike networks with bike facilities for people of all ages and abilities.” Personal experience has exhibited that the 40 year time lag is, at best, ‘a conservative estimate.’ Care must be exercised when bicycling in the United States.
Having been a street rider over the years has provided a certain perspective on the status of bicycling. There has been an over decrease in the amount of patience the ‘average’ driver exhibits. For example, in approaching a road crossing while riding on a sidewalk, a driver whips a corner just at the moment of accessing the crosswalk. The driver displayed no intent of stopping the right turn; the only sane alternative was to cede the ‘right of way’ to the driver. This type of incident is not uncommon. Drivers are many times over heedless top basic rules of the road, as concerns bicyclists. The high amount of distracted driving is another factor against which bicyclists have little defense. Many are the times that bicyclists are on the receiving end of vehicular negligence.
It behooves the present day cyclist to, at all times, be aware of what is occurring on the road. This involves the senses of sight, sound, and cognizance. Of course, seeing is a must: what is in front, what is on the side and what are the road conditions. Hearing will convey what is behind and what is the rate of approach. Cognition brings all of this information together as it is necessary to make those ‘split second adjustments as well as to plot and verify the present course of travel. More than not, the driver is not going to be aware of (nor care about) the cyclist’s presence.
On a personal note, riding now is more about the commute to work. For one reason, an effort to maintain health and for another reason, to cut down on driving. Although other exercise modalities are utilized, bicycling provides those dual benefits and allows for a mild sense of adventure and freedom. In the past riding, was more of a necessity (i.e., possessing no vehicle), but also provided access to more extensive periods of exercise, in the form of longer rides. Bicycle riding is an ideal activity for the person who enjoys solitude. There are those, however, who do get together for group rides . . . . either is fine depending on the temperament.
Bicycle riding can be (and is) fun. It personally provides enjoyment in the present moment from a sense of nostalgia. There is a saying about maintaining youthful viberance. It says that ‘The secret to staying young is to find an activity that one likes and sticking with it’. How many times do people abandon activities as they once enjoyed but have ceased participation in them. Due to aging, acquisition of responsibilities, duty to obligations, the deterioration of the body, whatever may be the case. Despite the challenges inherent to bicycling there is a satisfaction that can be obtained. Make certain to wear a safety helmet.