You Can Handle the Truth: Your Bike Scares Me (And so do You)
by Bethany Guyer
Bethany Guyer writes You Can't Handle The Truth for Ball Bearings magazine. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the magazine or The Daily
Have you ever imagined yourself lying face-down on a sidewalk here at Ball State with a bicycle tire mark across your back? I have. I’ve imagined it many times as I walk to class and find myself stutter-stepping around moving bicycles and their owners.
This kind of scenario makes me annoyed and
somewhat hateful, but I try to remember that, like me, these people are just
trying to get to class.
Maybe I’m jealous that they can zoom down the
roadways and cut their transportation time in half. Maybe I’m jealous that
they’re taking a fun, breezy bike ride while I’m walking beneath the hot sun.
Maybe I’m just jealous of that girl’s backpack. All of these possibilities are
plausible. More than likely, though, I’m imagining myself with that tire mark
on my back, spread out on the ground, involuntarily peeing my pants because my
bladder has been squashed.
I’m leaning toward a melodramatic mindset, so
let me take this back to reality.
Recently, I found myself walking to class on a
sunny afternoon. Within 10 minutes, I had practically ballroom danced with two
different cyclists because I was unable to tell in which exact direction they
I moved from side-to-side like an idiot. All I
could tell was that the general area they were headed toward was me. I had two
seconds to make a decision, or I inevitably faced either being trampled beneath
the tires or straddling the front wheel and going along for the ride.
When most people see a guy on his juiced-up
mountain bike or a girl on her vintage Schwinn Cruiser (basket included), they
see money, class, sophistication and a James-Dean-level of cool. I, however,
see a metal death-machine with a person attached. You know, something less like
James Dean’s nifty leather jacket and more like the fiery car crash in which he
My friend Suzie was the victim of a biking
accident, except in her case, she was the one on the bike. While attempting to
sail around some pedestrians by veering into the grass, the gap between the
sidewalk and the soil sent her skyrocketing into embarrassment. The ordeal left
her with a bloody and battered big toe on her very first day of classes.
“I haven’t ridden my bike to classes since
then,” Suzie says. “The sidewalks are just too crowded.”
Her flesh might have healed, but her ego has
yet to recover.
Through all of my experience and research, it
seems to me that the lines of communication between cyclists and their
pedestrian counterparts are disconnected. Pedestrians don’t know which way the
cyclists are going, and it’s difficult for cyclists to navigate the swirling
sea of pedestrians in front of them.
There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but who has the time to think that deeply? I prefer to have my friends drive me to class anyway. I can get there in five minutes, and we can run over pedestrians and cyclists alike.