Two wheels, two different experiences.
Bicycling is a joyous thing. The wind rustles your clothes and cools you. The colors around you are vivid. You smell the scents of the world. Hear the sounds of children playing, your chain making little whisperings, dogs barking, and trains, and people talking as you roll by. It’s a joyous life-affirming thing. In communities where people bike and walk, there is better connectivity between neighbors. Businesses have been shown to thrive. People take more time to notice all that’s happening around them, and are more likely to be a positive part of that culture. When I have a pleasant ride it always makes me feel young and happy and healthy. It makes me fall in love over and over again with the places I ride. The little nuances become like seasoning in a good meal. Sadly those pleasant rides are few and far between now. A quick glance around you and your ride turns from a thing of beauty to a thing of sheer terror. Beside you, behind you, the car across the intersection from you, they are all filled with people on their devices. Talking. Texting. Reading emails. Fiddling with some app. All those beautiful sights no longer exist; you’re eyes are now darting and dilated. The sounds suddenly become fire on your nerves as ride with your gut clenched and your body braced because you are terrified of the driver that’s distracted and is highly likely to drive their two thousand pound metal carriage into your 150 lbs of body and bike total. What happened? How did this happen so quickly? Once, not long ago you and me, we concentrated on driving. We looked around us from behind the wheel and saw the people that walked and biked, we saw cats and dogs, and other drivers. We slowed down and gave them wide birth so they could have a good day too. Now it’s rush, rush, rush, and cram as much stimulation into a single moment as possible. It’s killing us, maiming us, and destroying lives. The saddest part of all is that all those lives that are lost and destroyed by distracted driving are senselessly lost. So next time you see that 2 wheeled traveler on a bicycle, think about what a beautiful experience they can have. Remember their life is literally in your hands, which should be firmly planted on your steering wheel and not on your phone. Kimberly Perry, Ed.D. Executive Director, Bike Virginia