I rode my bike to work yesterday!
I have been on the soapbox for awhile now about cyclists in Cleveland. I guess ever since my husband got hit by an RTA bus (who has graciously refused to pay his medical bills) I have been a little vocal. So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was. I ride my bike around our neighborhood with kids for leisure, and every Sunday we ride the Towpath, but I have yet to embrace city riding. I have always left that up to the Chef cause I'm kind of a baby.
Not anymore bitches.
The Chef and I hit the road and I immediately noticed the drivers. Now before I tell you about that let me tell one thing. I am an EXTREME RULE FOLLOWER. I was wickedly wild up until I had kids and my early twenties may have put the kibosh on my desire to go up against the lawman. Before I decided to ride my bike the six miles downtown, I researched bicycling in Ohio. I read Ohio's bike laws. I learned my hand signals and right of way. I shined my helmet, put my headphones away and prepared to ride my bike safely downtown.
I'm a nerd. A safe nerd. But a nerd, nonetheless.
We got on Euclid Ave., the only semi bike friendly street (which also happens to be where the Chef was hit by a bus) and I immediately secured myself in the bike lane while the Chef rode a few car lengths ahead. Within moments I was shocked and surprised by a car slowing down next to me, screaming and shouting while raising his fists at me.
"You stupid bitch, get off the road!"
I was floored. The Chef was aways up and I knew if he heard what the man was screaming at me nothing good would come. I slowed my bike down as he sped on. It was awful and I was totally shaken up. I kept going trying to reach the Chef and found myself being pushed even closer to the curb by another car who was not happy about me riding in the bike lane. Again, I slowed my roll. The Chef realized that I was way behind and waited up. I would like to say the rest of our ride in was good, but it wasn't. Drivers in Cleveland are mean and fucking hate bikers. I mean if they had a shotgun they would probably shoot. We got screamed at a couple more times, horns blasting, red faces glaring.
The ride made me hate Cleveland.
And I don't hate Cleveland. I love this city and I think I might also love biking. The fact is, riding a bike on the streets of Ohio is completely legal. I repeat, RIDING A BIKE ON THE STREETS OF OHIO IS COMPLETELY LEGAL. I think, for some reason, driver's don't understand this. I think they think the right of the road is all theirs.
I just don't understand the hate you drivers have. I am not hurting you, nor am I in your way or making you late. I am not weaving in and out of traffic and I am following all of the laws. I am not endangering your life at all. You are endangering mine. You are threatening my life when you scream at me, distracting me from the rode. Your are endangering my safety when you swerve to give me a 'little scare.' I am not the danger on the road, dear driver, you are.
I know not all drivers are complete motherfuckers.
I drive everyday and when I see a cyclists on the road I use caution. I don't scream or yell, nor do I throw a hissy fight about the right of the way. I respect the idea of a bike city and I hope that my city will continue embracing cyclists. I would love to see our city mimic Chicago's bike infrastructure.
Green lanes and divvy bicycle rentals on major streets should be implemented here. Green lanes make SUCH A DIFFERENCE. I rode on one last week in CHI and I felt so much safer than I ever have in Cleveland riding my bike. Encouraging people to bike to and from work encourages the health of it's citizens, not to mention the massive environmental benefits.
For the City of Cleveland to continue embracing the revitalization of our fair city, I firmly believe that forward thinking when it comes to a cycling city is massively needed. If you're hiring CLE, I'm totally up for the job:)
What are your thoughts on bicycling in a city? Love it? Hate it?
Share your biking experiences in the comments.
One last thing...in the words of the late, great Freddie Mercury...