Monday, January 14, 2013

Back At It

Today I rode my bike for the first time in over two weeks.  I got a bad cold over Christmas,  and just when I thought I was over that,  I got a case of Strep throat which put me out for another week.

I couldn't have asked for a better day to start riding again, as the weather on this 14th of January is freakishly warm (high of 60+) predicted.  I was at a job site first thing (via Zipcar)  and then rode in around 11AM.   Gilbert is up on the rack while I fiddle with the chaincase, so I rode Minerva for the first time in a while.

There's a psychological barrier to riding in traffic again after a long time off the bike.  I get used to the sense of cars riding not too far away from me, and I lose that after too long off the bike, and tend to get tense in traffic.   Riding at mid-day, with the lighter traffic made that easier, and I even cheated by riding on the Charles river path for most of it.  We'll see how my resets are when I ride home tonight.
It's also hard because I have to ride vehicularly for significant portions of my commute, and when you're still recovering, it's tough to ride as fast as often feels necessary when riding in traffic.  I wish it weren't that way, but unfortunately it's harder to ride at a slow comfortable pace when you have a delivery van breathing down your fender.  

As an advocate for more, and more separated, infrastructure,  I still take for granted the health and relative youth that make a lot of my riding do-able.  When my health is compromised, I'm reminded of  people who might be interested in riding, but who don't feel that they can ride fast enough or aggressively enough to be comfortable riding in traffic.  It renews my feeling that we need to do more to create safe spaces where everyone can ride at their own pace.


  1. The notion that you have to redline to act as a driver when bicycling in traffic is countered not only by my experience, but countless counter-examples reported, and even shown on video, from all over the country. The difference between redlining and riding within your limits is practically imperceptible to the motorists around you... why exert yourself? I mean, if you want to for conditioning that's fine, of course, but it's not true that it has anything to do with being safe and comfortable in traffic.

    The videos on the "I am Traffic" youtube channel demonstrate that normal speed bicycling is fine in all kinds of conditions. Like these.

    A lot of great work from Florida, too:

  2. I never said I was "redlining" I sincerely hope to never have a bike commuting experience where I feel that I have to redline. But in Boston traffic, with Boston's impatient and aggressive drivers, I don't feel comfortable cycling vehicularly (taking the lane) unless I'm moving faster than I feel like moving with my wheezy chest and sore throat. I feel like riding about 8mph. I think cars would start honking and get pretty aggro if I rode in the lane at that speed.
    I would also be willing to bet you that the people in all those propaganda videos you linked to are riding a lot faster than I ever go on my 40+ lb bike in my normal clothes.

    And I think my mother or my 6 YO nephew should be able to ride at slow speeds and not get hassled, or made to feel unsafe, and unfortunately that's not realistic in a vehicular cycling context.

    This is why we have fewer older people, people not already in great health or kids riding in this country, compared to a place like Amsterdam where they have separated facilities and people ride from 8 to 80, and in sickness and in health.