Tuesday, June 02, 2015

I'd rather ride a bicycle

Used bicycle, new helmet.

I'm not a confident driver. In fact, I dislike driving, especially on freeways, at night, in rain or snow or when traffic is heavy. I dread changing lanes. I totaled a car once, which taught me what it's like to be in a car when it's upside down. I also crashed my ex-husband's car before we even got married, costing $4,200 worth of damage. Some people should just stay off the roads and I volunteer.

But riding a bicycle works for me, so I recently bought a used one. I used to ride a lot when I lived in Ithaca, New York and when I first moved to Chicago, but then I began using public transportation more and the bicycle got neglected, then stolen. Recently it felt right to start using one again.

I'm not one for riding recreationally. I ride in order to get places that aren't easy to reach on the train from east Rogers Park in Chicago, Illinois. I've been using my new-to-me bike to get to south Evanston and west Rogers Park. I've never had a lot of physical stamina. After a 30-45 minute ride, I have to rest, after which I might have another 30-minute ride in me, and then that's it for the day. I have friends who will happily ride for miles and miles, making an afternoon of it. I will never ride with them. 

Yes, it's scary to be out there in the city with vehicles that could easily munch me, including parked cars whose doors could suddenly swing out and lay me flat (which has happened). But I take comfort in knowing that I can't do nearly as much damage to others on a bicycle as I can in a car. In a car I'm constantly checking the rear and side view mirrors, trying to figure out if I fit into the flow of traffic and how likely I am to crash into someone else. On a bicycle, my mistakes are more likely to land me in the hospital, not someone else. I just have to keep myself from getting run over, which feels much more manageable to me.

Maybe it comes down to how I'd rather be the one who pays the price for my mistakes. I hate the idea of screwing up and leaving someone else to clean up the mess. I try to limit the consequences of my actions to me. This is consistent with my dislike of being needed and my decision to not have kids. So it's a bicycle for me. I'll leave the driving to people who think they can operate such a large machine without putting others at risk. I'm in awe of such people.


Monica said...


Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Thank you.