My Turn: The view from the other side of the road
I have joined a subculture. I am now one of the people I used to scoff at on the side of the road for wearing skin-tight, rainbow-hued outfits. I have joined the ranks of the people I used to deride for taking up too much room on the road, causing me to swerve out of their way and purposely slowing down the flow of traffic. Those damn arrogant bikers, I’d mumble.
That’s right, I have joined the other side, and like any convert or any victim of Stockholm syndrome I now wholeheartedly endorse what once I maligned because I know now that I did not understand.
Now I understand that I wear the rainbow-hued outfits because I want to stand out in a crowd – because being seen is the best way not to get hit accidentally by a car’s fender squeezing me against the curb or beside the parked cars or getting clothes-lined by a car door swung open by an innocent driver who is in a hurry to get to their job or shop and honestly didn’t see me coming. And shamefacedly, I admit I worked hard to lose a lot of poundage, and I’m proud of how I look in those tight clothes.
I sometimes take up too much room because there are no paved shoulders on the side of the road, just dirt – which for my bike is the equivalent of quicksand. Sometimes there is a shoulder on the road, but it’s full of gravel or a pothole or a drain sunk deep below grade, all the equivalent of death traps for me. I avoid them and have no choice but swerve closer to you than either of us would like.
Look closer next time. Don’t assume, like I used to, that the bikers are thoughtless or careless. When you weigh the vulnerability of a cyclist vs. a car or hard pavement, there is no contest. We take our lives in our hands every time we go out on the road. We think and care about our safety, and yours, very much. That’s why we are begging you to consider us in the Concord Complete Street design process and give us a bicycle-friendly down town. We need your help and expertise in designing a people friendly down town that includes space for bikers, who, honestly, I have sometimes found to be just a tad bit arrogant.
(Diane O’Callaghan lives in Concord.)