Part of Bike Fun, for me, is making sure that people know that riding a bike is good for them, good for the environment, and good for their city.
I ride everywhere that I can. On the street, on the greenway, in bike lanes and outside of them. Sometimes, I hear the comment, “But – isn’t it dangerous? Aren’t you worried about being hit? What about the crazy drivers out there?”
Let’s back up for a bit. Women, in general, have been shown to be more risk-averse than men. That could account for fewer female bike riders in the downtown Nashville urban environment, or on the arterial roads leading to towns like Franklin and Mt. Juliet. I’m already an outlier in this regard, possibly because I feel a sense of ownership on the roads around Nashville.
Why do I feel like I “own” the road? On two wheels, it’s easy to feel the rhythm of the pavement beneath you. I know where the potholes are and where the water meter covers are when I ride a regular route; I know when to dodge an upcoming piece of roadkill and when to ease out around debris left in the bike lane. (Grrr.) Owning the road presents a sense of entitlement.
Vehicle drivers feel that they own the road, but I’d posit they own the speed of the road. Slowing down by a few seconds to permit a bike rider to ascend a hill, then safely passing them isn’t just courtesy, it’s the law. (Three feet in Tennessee, up to four feet in other states.)
If we are building a city that only allows vehicle drivers to own the road, aren’t we just building a more dangerous environment for all of us?