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 were headed.

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 perished.

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.


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