She had loved riding bike as a kid. She’d ride everywhere, for hours a day, up until her high school years. Then she got her driver’s license and the call of the car was too great to resist.
Like many others though, this spring she decided it was time again to travel on two wheels. She did some research and picked a bike that was comfortable for city riding, but would work okay if she took it on Lunken Airport Trail, which a friend had told her is really nice. She got a helmet too.
Now, with the afternoon sun flooding in through her office window, she wraps up her work for the day, hurriedly shoves her stuff into her backpack and rushes to the bike rack out front. After a couple months getting reacquainted with biking, she knows what to expect. At first, she had been scared. It hadn’t seemed quite so dangerous when she was younger. But she’s gotten used to it, and has a mental checkbox of all the obstacles she’s going to inevitably face over the 2-ish mile ride home (or more if she decides to take a scenic detour – the day is gorgeous, after all).
The first obstacle: She slows down as she approaches the entrance for the grocery store parking lot. One of two things is going to happen: Either a car is going to turn in front of her going into the parking lot, or a car is going to pull too far out of the parking lot and block her path. This time, it’s the latter. As the driver notices her and shrugs his shoulders, she weaves behind his car and the car behind it.
The second obstacle: After a nice calm stretch using the bike lane on Spring Grove Avenue, she cruises along a line of parked cars. She can see a woman in the driver seat of one of them. Will the driver look in her mirror to check if it’s safe to open the door or will she fling it open into the bicyclists path? The bicyclist knows the answer, so she carefully moves into a gap in traffic and gets clear of any possibility of a dooring. Sure enough, as soon as she passes, the driver kicks the door open. The bicyclist laughs at the predictability.
The third obstacle: There’s some construction going on along her usual route. She keeps going until she reaches a patch where chunks of broken concrete have made their way into the road. Scooting around them, she decides to reroute. Scenic detour it is.
The fourth obstacle: There are some amazing yards along her detour, including one with a wildflower garden full of butterfly weed and purple coneflower. Soon she comes to an intersection. The light is green and she has the right of way, but she sees a car coming in the opposite direction with its left turn signal flashing. She has a feeling the driver is going to turn left in front of her when there are no cars coming. They always watch for cars, never for bikes. She wonders if she was ever so oblivious when she was driving and not biking. She hopes not. The driver edges forward but sees her at the last second and waves her through, magnanimously granting her permission to do what she had the right to do anyway. She hurries past.
The fifth obstacle: Back on her regular route, she’s on the home stretch now. She’ll be happy to be home, but considers maybe taking another detour. The day is so gorgeous. She decides against it and continues on. A pickup truck speeds past her with a bed full of junk. Ahead, it swerves to avoid a squirrel and a storage bin tumbles from the bed into the road. That’s a new one, she thinks as she dodges both the bin and the pickup truck driver who frantically pulls over in front of her to recover his lost treasure.
As she pulls into her driveway and her son runs out of the house to welcome her, she smiles. She wishes drivers would pay closer attention to bicyclists, but she’s proud of her newfound ability to anticipate their carelessness and outmaneuver them to make it back here. In the back of her head a question appears though: What happens if one day she doesn’t see an obstacle coming?
*This is a dramatization and is not based on real people or events