Monday, August 2, 2010

Commuting is subject to natural selection

"It's illegal!" That's the response I got from an acquaintance when I told him that after a couple of weeks of commuting to and from work on my road bike, and having experienced several close calls with vehicles on the road;  it was time to switch to my hybrid bike and consider riding on the sidewalk when traffic got really challenging.

Naturally, I wasn't about  to take his word for it, and I did some researching of my own, to make sure that if and when it became necessary to jump the curb and ride on the sidewalk, I wouldn't be subject to tickets or fines.

To wit :

Sidewalk riding

(Section 316.2065(10) and (11), F.S.)
A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

So, having cleared that issue, and after duly documenting my right to ride on the sidewalk, the argument continued on for days on my facebook page, he went on to say that despite the fact that it was not illegal per Se, it should still not be allowed. Some of his fellow riders from his Tuesday night group ride chimed in to call me a wuss for not riding on the road and declared me persona non grata for the cycling community of the world.

Clearly this was a healthy exchange of some banter among members of the same demographic group with different ideas: On the one hand, not a single one of those cyclists who decided to deride my announcement of safety over peril ride their bicycles to work; so clearly, they simply cannot relate. On the other hand, they are all from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, populated mostly by WASPs, where they enjoy some of the best bicycle trails in the midwest so how can they possible imagine what it feel like to get buzzed by east bound traffic on SW 8th street coming from the west towards Coral Gables? I am not exagerating when I say that on a given day, I get brushed at least twice by side mirrors.

Now, I give these drivers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are too busy texting, on the phone, or applying make up, so their spatial percepetion is skewed and I refuse to believe that a human being would purposely attempt to hurt another individual simply because they can. But reality tells me that my presence on the road awakens their feelings of inadequacy and rather than trying to walk or bike a bit more, it is simply easier to try to obliterate those who do than to rise up to the challenge and improve their lives.

But I digress, I have since switched bicycles for my commute, and no longer ride my road bike, and the main purpose is: Survival. You see, on my road bike, I am not able to jump a curb if need be, or cut through parking lots, or ride on the sidewalk whenever I feel endangered by traffic. I realized that being a strong rider is quite meaningless when going up against a car, because for all my mental acquity and muscle strength and reaction, a vehicle will trump human any day of the week.

Now don't get me wrong, I am by no means yielding or running away. I am simply  adapting to my environment to survive, because in the end, my commute makes me feel good, makes me feel happy, relaxes me and keeps me in better shape, but it is not a training ride - it is simply just that.... a commute ... on a bicycle....propelled by me.... without emisions, and this is my life.


  1. Great Point... thanks for pointing this out!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Gustavo. Great post.

  3. Just out of curiosity, how far DO you commute? I live in Homestead and go to school at FIU. As much as I'd love to ride a bike there, I don't really think it's feasible.

  4. Hey June... my commute is a little over 10 miles each way. I must say, I am pretty fortunate to have the option to clean up at work and a secure place to park my bike - So there is really no excuse for me not to commute as much as I can. Homestead to FIU would be a long way, it may be possible but probably not everyday.

  5. A friend of mine was commuting Homestead-FIU by recumbent bike. He'd use the Busway path (South Dade Trail), then turn west at Dadeland.