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by Kathleen Moore

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Bike challenge, Day 3

By Kathleen Moore
Thursday, June 7, 2012

State law says my bicycle is a vehicle, just like a car or a van or a Mack truck.

My internal “Oh my god, I’m going to die” meter considers Mack trucks to be much more of a vehicle than my flimsy little unprotected bike.

So on the first day of this challenge, my general plan was to let the real vehicles go first. At any intersection, I was willing to wait.

In fact, trying to turn seemed to be an advanced skill ... to turn left properly, I have to enter the real vehicles lane, maintain my balance well enough to signal gracefully with my left hand, possibly come to a stop, and then manage to turn and start pedaling again all at once when an opening appears.

I’ll admit it: on Day 1, I walked my bike across the intersections instead.

But on Day 2, I figured I had to pretend to be courageous for the good of the story. How can I truly write about biking in the city if I avoid all the actual city-traffic issues?

So I forced myself to turn left. A lot. And on Day 2, I developed a stuttering wave as I wobbled, which possibly indicated to drivers that I was planning to collapse in front of them.

But then I turned left, trusting that they were not going to run me down, and to my surprise, they were all very patient with the incredibly slow and shaky biker.

Only one car indicated its interest in turning right by trying to drive through me while I negotiated a left turn in slow motion.

I considered my escape of death a success. Then came Day 3.

And everything came together. I began pedaling from a stop without nearly falling over first. I even managed to occasionally extend my signaling arm entirely before jerking it back to the handlebars. I started entering the driving lane without fear, sometimes even brusquely signaling to the car behind me by pointing and nodding my head authoritatively.

As I whipped around corners and raced down city streets, I started to feel ... safe.

This is supposed to be the moment at which I was run down by an impatient Mack truck driver, but the only trucks I encountered actually waved me ahead of them.

Sure, it was probably only to keep me from running into them (my biking still does not encourage confidence), but it was nice nonetheless.

And I only once nearly crashed into a parked car while trying to signal and pedal simultaneously. Well, twice.

But I missed. I’m calling it good.

 
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