Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Really Backward Way of Convincing You to Bike

Finally. Spring.

Anyone else feel like it took forever to get here? Was it because last winter was so mild and so unobtrusive? Did it just suck more than normal? Or am I just getting older and grumpier when conditions aren't ideal for biking around all over the place?

This morning I was flying down Penn in a t-shirt and short-leggings. The weather was perfect and thoughts of "I love spring." or "I love biking." or "I love Pittsburgh." were populating my brain. This is what I had been waiting (im)patiently for as winter dragged on during the past few weeks.

And then I got downtown. And started navigating the disaster that is Wood Street. When I'm not on my bike, I'm usually on my feet. I'm rarely in a motor vehicle. so even when I'm on two wheels, I have a deep respect for pedestrians. But some pedestrians crossing Wood Street around 8 a.m. on weekday mornings are crossing Wood Street without a care in the world for what's coming their way. And I'm starting to have very little respect for them! Wood Street stresses me out, but it's the *safest* option to my parking garage. By the time I am crossing Fourth and about to turn down Third into my garage, I am relieved.

That relief started washing over me today - and then all of a sudden I was on the ground.

I had been doored.

Not something I want to experience again.

When I bike, I am always keeping an eye out for opening car doors. I've had a few close calls, and I've had to shout a few cautionary words here and there. But here's the thing about getting doored: I didn't see it coming. I was fine and then I was on the ground.

And then of course I was scurrying back up, feeling embarrassed (even though I know I should've been irate) and making sure all my limbs and appendages were still functioning. Thankfully, they were. And my bike was fine too. I think the people in the car were terrified, which made me feel bad, so I kept assuring them I was fine, but they had to promise me to be more careful. I explained that the driver is at fault in the dooring situation and went on my merry (and slightly bruised) way.

This is a really backward way of convincing you to get outside and bike. I've been on my bike most every day of 2013. I stayed off the roads if they were snowy or icy, but bared the freezing wind and cold when possible to get back and forth from work or places like the grocery store. I couldn't be more excited for spring, because it means many more miles will be pedaled. Biking around Pittsburgh may be intimidating at first, but it's easy to acclimate. The stories like the one above are uncommon. I've been biking steadily for three years, and that was my first dooring. And my worst bike crash to date was the fault of another biker on the North Shore Trail.

My advice: Wear a helmet. Take streets you're comfortable with. Push yourself up the hills. (Your body will thank you!) Become a BikePGH Member. (AND SIGN THE "I BIKE. I WALK. I VOTE." PETITION.) Make smart decisions. Be confident! If you feel nervous biking, you'll be a nervous biker.

And, probably most important: HAVE FUN.

(BTW: Sorry about the prolonged absence. My only excuse is that winter sucks.)

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