Recycling Thoughts of Bicycling (7/6/2014)

I saw a photo in a Maine newspaper of a cyclist riding along, wearing a yellow T-Shirt. Inscribed on the back: “Give me three feet please.” I empathize.

Boston has painted cycle lanes on many streets. I have noticed that the space of those cyclists isn’t always respected. Give them three feet, please.

On the other hand, I frequently find myself on the other side of things, not as a driver, but as a pedestrian. I would like to wear a T-shirt on my walks along the Charles River that states: “Ring your bell please.”

This has been my experience. I am walking along the joint-cyclist/pedestrian pathway by the river. I am walking on the right. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a cyclist silently whizzes by, a couple of feet to my left. I had no idea that such a cycling whirlwind had been approaching me, until it passed me by.

My Lord! I could have been killed! Or smashed into, to the detriment of both the cyclist and the pedestrian. What if I had suddenly moved to my left, to tie my shoe, propping my foot on the guardrail? What if I had suddenly turned to my left to catch sight of a beautiful bird, which had suddenly appeared? And what if, at that very moment, a cyclist had been silently whizzing by? The cyclist would have crashed into me, to the physical displeasure of both of us.

Shouldn’t every cyclist be required, by the canons of common decency, if not of law, to have a bell; and to use that bell every time he or she passes a pedestrian from behind?

I know that I should look behind me every time I move off my course on the right side of the path. But help! I can’t control myself! Impulsively I move to my left to see that multi-colored bird, whose name I don’t know, or to catch sight of that sweet young thing, jogging along on the other side of the street, with her rhythmic endowment in dramatic evidence. Okay. It’s a weakness of my nature. But I can’t do anything about it. But do I have to be killed because of it?

Actually, more than once, I’ve been nearly run over by a speeding cyclist. So fast and so silently did he or she pass me by that I didn’t even have time to yell: ring your frigging bell!

But the problem is: most of those cyclists don’t even have bells to ring! That’s been my observation anyway.

So this is my proposal. I will give you three feet whenever I’m driving my car and passing you by. And you will buy and install a bell and ring it every time you come speeding – oh so silently – click, click, click – upon a pedestrian from behind. Deal?