Yesterday I was biking to work, crossing the Lake/Marshall bridge and hugging the right side of outermost traffic lane, since the bike lane, like most bike lanes in the city, has been repurposed for plowed-snow storage until the end of April. A pickup truck passed me with about a foot to spare, drifting into the next lane and almost clipping a truck there. It then proceeded up the Marshall hill, passing other cars in the parking lane at 48 mph, according to the radar sign posted there—18 miles over the limit.
When friends and colleagues see me in my winter-bike gear they usually say something about how brave and/or crazy I am for biking in this weather. It’s so cold! It’s so dangerous! (Online, of course, people delight in the idea of hitting me and long for my death.)
Aloud, I force a chuckle and change the subject. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut about biking, at least IRL, because people who talk about their pastimes are apparently everything that’s wrong about this country. In my head, I say: The only thing dangerous about riding in this weather is the same thing that’s dangerous riding on any other day—the way other road users behave toward me. This includes motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists, though the only group that’s capable of killing me with a flick of the wrist or a glance at the cellphone is motorists.
My bike’s tires can handle the snow and ice. My clothing can handle the cold. The only variable I can’t control is how you treat me when you’re driving your car. When you say I’m brave/stupid/crazy, you’re only implicating yourself; my safety is more within your control than mine. My life is in your hands.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog.
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