Commuter’s Corner #4: Solidarity!
Today we welcome guest blogger Stephen Perz. Stephen Perz is a League of American Bicyclists League Cycling Instructor (#864) and the Education Director for the Gainesville Cycling Club. He has commuted to work, rain or shine, hot or cold, for almost 25 years. The following “Commuter’s Corner” is featured on the Gainesville Cycling Club’s website.
Commuter’s Corner #4: Solidarity!
A predominant discourse about the glories of cycling heralds the freedom offered by the bicycle. This is routinely used to get kids on bikes. This is great, but it’s not the whole picture. As we have wrapped up another National Bicycling Month, I am reminded of the larger social significance of cycling.
Here it is: I submit that cycling and cyclists are the social glue of our traffic in our streets. Far from being some sort of nuisance, cyclists are here to help!
Need examples? Clip in, because here we go. Number one: helping motorists who get lost. Folk in Gainesville from out of town get lost sometimes. Then they come to an intersection, where I’m standing next to their vehicle on my bike in the bike lane. And then it happens. The window rolls down, and the questions come out. “Do you know where the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is?” Or the museum, or the movie theatre, or the Hipp, or whatever. I’m happy to provide instructions. Your friendly commuter cyclist, who knows where stuff is.
Number two: helping kids on their bikes. I happened upon a family riding on the sidewalk. Everybody was happy, with one exception: the little girl whose shoelaces had become entangled in her pedals. Not only did she have to stop, but she was becoming upset as it sounded like her brother might beat her in their impromptu race to the library. So I stopped and disentangled her laces and pointed out that if you double-knot them, they don’t flop around so much. This advice got a thumbs-up. Then she was off, bound to catch up.
Number three: helping adults with their bikes. On the return leg of the 2016 Pink Pumpkin ride, our group came upon a classic scene: riders stopped because somebody had a flat. People were sort of standing around, evidently waiting for the flat to be fixed. So I stopped and helped fix the flat, and we formed a new group and made it back.
Number four: helping stranded commuter cyclists. One evening last fall on the commute home, I passed a cyclist stopped by the side of the road. Turns out he had a badly bent front rim, as in, something more than just a bit out of true. Turns out that the bike is his commuter vehicle to work, for GRU. And his one-way route is about 11 miles. And his wife and their three kids were across town at Target, waiting for him. So I ran home and got our minivan and took him and his bike to his wife and kids.
Number five: just asking. On the way home, I came across a construction worker, walking his bike. The rear wheel was not only flat, it was off the rim and absolutely shredded. This time there wasn’t much I could do, but fortunately his apartment was up the street and not across town. He thanked me for the inquiry anyway.
Freedom is great, but so is solidarity. Cyclists can help motorists! Cyclists can help kids! And (pay particular attention to this one, now) cyclists can help each other! Including non-club members!
Want to get where you need to go? Ask a cyclist! And thank them for their being there! SOLIDARITY!
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