Friday, October 2

Change I Believe In

The second test ride changed everything. Before the test rides, I rode more assertively than a lot of experienced cyclists (such as the one here) ride. Overall, I was safer than most – I routinely controlled lanes at intersections, I didn’t ride straight from RT lanes, I didn’t hug the gutter pan, and I was not a fan of sidewalks. Unlike many, I was familiar with vehicular cycling principles, I practiced them more than not, and I’d read Forester extensively (yes, I agree he can be a PIA). In addition, I’d been influenced by Cycle*Dallas and CommuteOrlando, and I had over a year of DFW cycle commuting experience under my belt. Heck, I'd tried (unsuccessfully) to take a Traffic 101 course. It wasn't enough.

The second test ride convinced me that I could not make the new commute in safety without a substantially more assertive vehicular riding approach, all the time. There was no incident; it was just the totality of the roads and traffic involved. Westport Parkway was certainly a factor.  I made the change, starting on Good Friday. I’ve not regretted it. Sometimes I’m amazed at the difference when I now ride streets I haven’t ridden since that day. I don't refer to myself as a “vehicular cyclist.” I don’t think I ever will. It’s how I ride, not who I am.

Vehicular Cycling may never increase the number of people on bikes, but, at some point, just as in the case of a serious drinking problem, things get serious enough for someone with a serious cycling problem to reach the point of "I better do something."

April 10, 2009 was the day. Good Friday. I don't recall the exact time, but it was morning. It was not a gradual, experience-related change. It was more like a flipped light switch. It also marked a beginning of an ongoing commitment to simply ride better, every day, to continually improve my abilities. This blog helps by examining cycling critically, and by seeing the valuable thoughts commenters offer. Sure, this is fun, but fun can be serious at the same time. Thanks to you all.

Next, Cycling's Dangerous
Previous, Yes, I Can!
Index, Deadly Serious Bike Commute

1 comment:

Keri said...

It was like flipping a switch for me, too. Like you I wasn't riding like a gutterbunny before that, but I was not as assertive as I needed to be. Flipping that switch gave me access & confidence on far more roads, and a much more pleasant bubble of space everywhere.

I, too, will sometimes find myself on a road I haven't traveled for a long time and remember a different perspective. The most common is: "wow, this lane looks a whole lot narrower than it did from over there!"

It's all an evolution. I adapt and learn new things all the time.

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