This summer I’ve been riding home from the bars at night, allowing me to (1) ride my bike more and (2) be less stressed out about driving home after having a beer. Except for the one flat tire, I’ve been safe and nothing bad has happened. But nevertheless, I’ve been getting very discouraging messages from my parents about this.
You’re going to get chased down by one of those guys at the park playing basketball, and it’d be so easy for them to knock you off your bike.
You’re going to get hit by a drunk driver.
This fall you’d really be better off buying a parking pass to go to classes. It’s just not practical to ride your bike to and from town.
It’s frustrating to hear these things, because none of this actually discourages me from riding my bike. All this does is put seeds of doubt and fear in someone’s head. It’s like telling women not to walk home by themselves, don’t wear short skirts or shorts, don’t drink too much. We’re approaching these issues from the wrong direction.
Instead of teaching our boys and men to respect women’s consent, or setting a great example, we place the responsibility on women to stop someone from attacking them. Instead of pushing for more street lights, an extension of a bike path, or more public awareness of cyclists’ rights, we’re saying don’t ride after dark, ride on the sidewalk, or five miles is just too far to ride. Don’t try. There’s a line between self-awareness, precaution, using your senses and letting fear of a random and uncontrollable circumstance paralyze you.
I’ll finish my rant her, but I feel like dissuading someone from riding their bike perpetuates the unsafe conditions and environment you’re scared of. I mentioned the Path Less Pedaled already, but in their post on The Great Fear they put it well,
“The Great Fear is what stops people in their tracks. It is what turns dreams into dust.”
Route: Neighborhood loop
Total time: 14:55
Distance: 3.4 miles
Mileage to date: 70 miles
Total time on the bike: 5:09 minutes
Photo from Spooky Bikes Facebook. Source unknown. (Let me know if you recognize it so it can get credited properly)