I see you back there. I see you out the corner of my eye. I feel the tension radiating from your car. I read your posts on Star Tribune and Facebook. Yes, I’m in your way and I know it.
I’m not trying to be in your way. Like you, I’m just trying to go somewhere. Unfortunately, there aren’t great bike trails or lanes in this area. Instead of honking at me, maybe you should do something about it. There are two things I recommend: relax, and then take action to support bike infrastructure.
There’s a lot of animosity between bikes and cars and people get fired up on both sides. Can we just all take a big, deep breath?
When you honk at me and startle me enough to make me unsteady, do you forget that I’m also just trying to go about my day? When you buzz me so close I can feel the warmth of your engine on my leg, do you forget that I’m a human being? Do you forget that you are?
It sometimes seems like people forget their humanity when behind the wheel, or in the saddle. If we could just look at other people as people trying to do their best, if we could decide to give those we interact with the benefit of the doubt, could we stop thinking of them as just being in our way?
Two: support bike infrastructure
If you want cyclists to get out of your way, support funding for dedicated bike lanes. Bikes cannot ride on the sidewalk, so don’t assume that’s an option. The street is all we have, and the only option is to share the road. I don’t want to feel your wrath as I’m trying to enjoy my morning commute; I don’t want to inconvenience you. I’m sorry you’re frustrated, but I don’t have a choice.
If you’re thinking something along the lines of, “Those freeloading bikers don’t pay for anything!” Let me enlighten you. I have a car, so I pay licensing and registration fees just like you. I have a job, so I pay income taxes to the general fund that pays for the majority of roads. But, even though I have a car, I hardly ever use it or get my money’s worth out of those roads I’ve helped build. Same goes for all those other cyclists out there. Would you rather them drive and add to congestion on your commute? No, I’m sure you wouldn’t.
If you want cyclists to get out of your way, contact your city to support biking infrastructure. Having separate spaces for bikes and cars makes sense. Not only does it make cyclists feel more safe, it prevents traffic from being impeded by slower vehicles.
What should you do then? If you live in Minneapolis, join the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and support their work, contact your city council representative and tell them you support funding for bicycle infrastructure, and talk to your friends, family, and coworkers about why bike funding makes sense. Oh, one more thing, treat the cyclists (and pedestrians, and other motorists) you come upon on the street with basic human decency.
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