Cyclists: Riding a mile in their shoes
By Mike DiMarco
Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In an argument solely based on why I disdain bike riders, I recently made the painful mistake of claiming I could easily handle the task of pumping pedals around the campus for a whole semester. If hippies can do it, so could I, right? Wrong. I wish I could claim this as a victory, but on behalf of myself and my very sore lower extremities, I concede defeat.
At the start of the semester, I was just like every other pedestrian, walking around the campus having to constantly watch as annoying cyclists dashed around with one silly pant leg rolled up. Believe me — I was at the forefront of anti-biker terrorism. As many of you know, there is no pure pleasure like seeing an overconfident cyclist attempt to take on an obstacle just a little too tough and consequently get a mouthful of pavement. Be it unexpectedly changing direction as they approach or simply zig-zagging on the sidewalk while the befuddled rider attempts to stay upright at 0 mph, I took great pride in wreaking havoc on the bike-riding community. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that a biker’s life is not the luxury I had imagined.
What I failed to realize was that aside from my utter physical inability to pedal around the campus, I would also have to deal with my former biker-abusing comrades. I had planned on sticking strictly to bike routes in order to not disturb pedestrians, but I discovered that College Park has no bike routes on the campus. The only designated paths for bikes are either man-made dirt paths or short stretches of pavement flanking the two major roads on either side of the campus. This omission of riding area forces bikers to either funnel onto sidewalks and weave drunkenly through and around walkers or to stay on the roadways and attempt (poorly in my case) to dodge buses and motorized scooters alike.
The only other option is to stay on the grass areas, which doubles the workload and is nearly impossible if the weather is poor.
So yes, I am hereby apologizing to the biking community for my long-term harassment of your people. I am also calling for my fellow foot-traffickers to cut these guys some slack.
Sure, there are some bad apples in the bunch, and if you see a biker riding hands-free down a crowded stairway, I say he is fair game (feel free to throw a stick), but I don’t think it is too much to ask that we ease up on the rest of them. Until the campus adds some alternative bike routes, all I’m asking is if you’re walking on the sidewalk, stay to the right; if you’re driving, no sudden stops; and when your roommate calls to tell you he brought home Wendy’s, look behind you before you pump your fist in ecstasy. I know it’s funny to see a 6-foot stranger do a front flip and crack a rib on a Honda Civic, but that’s why we have YouTube.
Mike DiMarco is a senior English major. He can be reached at dimarco at umdbk dot com.