March 13, 2012

Belligerent Cyclists

Two of my friends recently purchased a bike to begin commuting from the Short North to the CCSC area. We talked a little bit about routes and it came up that they weren't experienced cyclists like me. That got me thinking. Are the roads only meant for experienced cyclists? What makes me an experienced cyclist? 

A poorly-kept secret in the biking community is that some bicyclists do not want on-street bicycling facilities such as bike lanes while other advocates do support them. Overall, I question the need for bike lanes but I still use bike lanes when convenient. I think my confidence on the road makes me an experienced cyclist which also makes me a belligerent cyclist, at least according to some motorists.

As for what makes me an experienced cyclist, it hasn't been years cycling. I bought my bike in 2008 and started biking regularly in March 2010. Prior to biking regularly, I biked a handful of times. The first time I biked to work it was to ride in the Ride of Silence in 2009. The commute was the worst thing ever but right before I left work my friends made me inflate my tires. They were completely deflated!

So in 2 years or so, I went from a person who didn't own a bicycle to a person who was an experienced bicyclists. In the early days I was even somewhat crash prone. What happened? I just kept biking. I think that the Ride of Silence helped towards getting me to bike to work and then a class at CSCC forced me to bike throughout a quarter. I was able to ride with two friends to class.  Once we finished the class I felt really comfortable biking.

I think that besides my Rules of Biking, the biggest piece of advice I can give to new cyclists is to bicycle like you are driving. A bicycle is considered vehicle in Ohio law and it makes sense to follow the same rules as cars because you are on the road. If you aren't comfortable with that, look for other routes, try to ride with other cyclists, try biking on sidewalks, drive your bike to a midpoint which would make the commute easier, try anything that will make biking work for you.

Cool dude-grows-beard-over-a-year link of the day:

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