An incident that happened this morning and it will not let me sleep until I write it down. My thoughts will keep churning until the moment that I lay them to sleep on paper or in a word processor. Sometimes, that silent voice inside us must speak forth or we will never have any peace.
This morning, a careless driver from a hotel sped past my bus while I opened the door to let passengers out. Less than a foot away, he slammed on the brakes, stopping his van more than half way past the open doorway of my bus. A few seconds later, passengers exiting the bus and your's truly, could have been killed.
I briefly spoke to the driver and he asked me why I was stopped in the second lane from the curb.
“Because it is the law,” I exclaimed! Even a small shuttle bus takes at least fifty feet to make a u-turn and the second lane from the curb at the airport is for buses to unload passengers because they can't turn sharp enough to get in and out of the curb lane when cabs are parked there.
Somebody could have died because of that driver. I called his employer and later called the police. Hopefully the police can convince the driver to be more careful. If not, I'll certainly take him to court and press charges. Is the driver an idiot or just like one of us, more concerned about the freedom of driving faster than he is about being concerned about who he kills?
We've all done it... been impatient to get somewhere and have been willing to kill other people who get in our way by driving like their lives are worthless and only our's are important.
Cycling is from a more civilized era... like a phrase from Starwars about Light Sabers.
I have never heard of two cyclists crashing into each other and someone dying as a result. Sometimes in the Tour de France cyclists crash into each other... sometimes broken bones or cuts... but never does it end in death. Yet every day, protected in our cocoon of arrogance otherwise known as the automobile, we lose contact with the environment and the legacy of genocide which the automobile has created.
Why do I cycle?
Drivers have no concept of why people would risk their lives cycling down a highway or back country road knowing that there are these sociopaths who have no concern for anyone's life but their own. Even so, some of us drivers do become cyclists out of necessity, out of a need to push back death's grasp with good health and several more years of healthy living.
I cycle so that today, I won't die. I know that I'm twelve times more likely to die sharing a roadway with automobiles. I'm not a masochist, or someone who gets a thrill out of cheating death. I don't want to kill anyone while driving an automobile and I certainly don't want to die because of some motorist being careless about my safety. I don't want to hog roadways or upset drivers because I can't pedal as fast as they can press down on an accelerator. It is a selfish task, this cycling, but it is also something that affects those lives that I touch and I very much care how this will affect the ones I care most about.
A few years ago, I began suffering from diabetes as a result of being borderline obese. My doctor told me to start losing weight which was gained as a professional driver working extremely long shifts with far too much stress. Not only was the stress killing me, so was living too much of an easy life as a couch potato when I did have a few hours to relax at home after a long week.
First I started cycling indoors on a set of rollers and lost weight so easily that I thought I must have somehow cheated. Then I joined and quit a cycling club before joining again. My first year of cycling in a club made me feel more alive than I'd ever felt in my life, except perhaps for those years as a teen when cycling provided a means to de-pressurize from all the stress I was under. Often I would scribble lines from my “From The Ground Up” textbook to memorize as I rode around the neighbourhood, reciting them over and over again until they were memorized so I could pass my pilot exams and earn my wings through Air Cadets. I very much wanted to achieve such difficult tasks but in the years that followed, all those achieving paths only lead to more stress and unhappiness. Eventually, I returned to cycling to save my own life and learn to breath again after a serious illness had threatened to kill me.
If I had a choice to never share a roadway with another car, I would. Unfortunately, it is neither safe nor sane to share pathways with seemingly deaf people and their dogs who pay no attention to how many times I ring my bicycle bell to warn them of my approach. It also isn't safe to be traveling over 20 kph on a pathway in Calgary when other people are walking or roller blading there. It is also against the law to cycle faster than 20 kph on pathways and just as unreasonable to travel vast distances on a ride without going faster. Still, there are times on certain pathways when few people occupy those spaces and it becomes safe to go a little faster. Pathways with a 30 kph sign would meet the needs of most cyclists in Calgary but it is unlikely that the city cares enough about a cyclist's safety to justify the expense even though those same cyclists pay taxes and costs from operating a motor vehicle.
If I don't cycle today, I'm going to explode from all the stress I'm under. I need a healthy way to vent hostility, get rid of the bad energy and turn it into something healthy and good. I need to cycle.
All I need is a warm and sunny day. A day with little or no breeze and a whole day of miles to travel with as many hours as my heart can handle. I want to feel the youthful strength returning to my legs and lungs. I want to feel young again. I want to reach out and feel, and smell, and be outside of the cocoon of arrogance to feel as vulnerable as everyone else so that I can remember what it means to respect other people and animals. I want to exchange my selfish desires for those that embrace the whole world where every day is an eternity and each ride is an adventure of a lifetime that will never come again.
I want to cycle faster and further than I've ever cycled in my entire life. I want to share those journeys with anyone who wants to join me. I want to know that the people I touch also touch me as we share a ride or two.
I want to listen to my own heart, thoughts, and feel everything about this most civilized way to travel. I do not pollute the air I breath, do not destroy the land I travel over, do not put myself above anything or anyone I meet.
Sometimes I have to wonder... is it better to die in a little sociopathic cube we call a car or die a free man, being so much more than I thought I could be.
We need to teach the future generation just exactly what civilized used to mean, before the automobile became the commonly available means to murder and commit genocide.