The Ride Against Ignorance
I had a job interview today in an area I’ve ridden through several times since moving here. There is a short bike trail called the Fairfax Bike Trail that runs from the east side of Hyde Park to Mariemont. I love Mariemont for the architecture reminds me of the new parts of old (rebuilt) cities in Germany. It’s also a vital link to getting to the Little Miami Trail. Anyhow, today I didn’t have to take the trail because my job interview was off Murray Road. This is the reason why I attached the map at the top. Before I tell today’s story though, let me vent some feelings about cycling every day.
For the first several years of biking I took safety more seriously than I do today, but don’t let that discount how much safety I still put forth to keep my own buns intact. One safety measure I’ve opted to let slide is I listen to music through earbuds about 95% of the time. The safety experts will tell you need to have your ears to increase your perception of what is going on. That car you may not see could be heard first, or heard before it hits you. Cars do run red lights by the way, and will do more harm than a bicycle running a red light. On that note, I do not run red lights (even though my pedicab passengers think I can). But, I love my music and I feel it contributes to the number of miles I crank out in a year. Doing 1,500-2,000 miles used to seem so difficult, but when I started listening to music it seemed that I could ride forever. One other benefit of listening to music is I don’t hear all of the (I’m guessing) ignorant drivel motorists yell at you when they’re driving by. I’ve learned a number of things, given this happens almost daily, about yelling out the window at a cyclist.
1. Most of it is inaudible. You’re driving by fast and have an 8th grade education. You’re a jerk.
2. Chances are there is a red light ahead. Don’t underestimate how fast I can actually travel. When I pull up beside you I’m going to give you a look that clearly says… You’re a jerk.
3. Generally the same person who doesn’t want to share the road with me is the same ignorant asshole that doesn’t support bike trails. You’re a jerk.
4. I’m sure there are about 20 more scenarios that if you’re yelling at me it will lead me to believe that. You guessed it. You’re a jerk.
Usually when there is something I can’t understand I blame it on Hollywood. Since I generally can’t hear nor understand what these jerks are saying I can’t confirm this. I’ll assume anyhow. Sorry.
So anyhow today since I only had a 2.5 mile ride to my interview I left the music at home. Upon leaving the interview I was on Murray Road parellel to the bike trail. I couldn’t access the entrance to the job interview via the bike trail since the median between the trail and the road is actually rather wide, steep, and above all grass. Not that is should matter, but I was only on the road for like 500 feet from where the trail meets the road. So a car passes with me with a driver and a passenger. The passenger says, as they drive by pointing, “there is a bike trail right there”. I’m certain more ignorant things have been said to me while on a bike, but this one was loud, clear, and above all ignorant.
The reason why this bothers me is somewhat in regards to what I listed above; the importance of bike trails. We want cities to incorporate bike trails so we don’t have to compete with cars. I’d rather not have to just as much as you don’t want to push your gas pedal and slightly turn your wheel to go around me. So in this case a neighborhood has a bike trail (the passenger noted it), but it’s not a magic bullet. Regardless of how many bike lanes, trails, and magic carpet rides the city and Feds will leave us in the scrap heap will not take me off every road and street (or, I’m sorry, out of your way). Please remember this above all. You own a car. YOU DO NOT OWN THE ROAD.
Given that cyclists aren’t as common in Cincinnati I’ve had to become much more vigilant. This means taking the whole lane, and not giving in to the ignorance and bullying out there on the road. Defensive, but assertive is what I like to say. In all, I’m thankful for moving here and dealing with what seems like a new, swift, and promising future of cycling advocacy in Cincinnati. I hope to be a bigger part of it. Slow down one day, and maybe I’ll tell you more about it.