When I was 4-years-old, my father taught me to ride a bike. There's footage of me riding with no training wheels, my mom or dad will bring it out once every couple of years. It's a funny video of me conquering a fear of riding without the training wheels, and it's fun to watch every time.
I had several bicycles growing up. Outgrown or broken, each bike was replaced with another. Scooters, skateboards and roller blades also made an appearance, but I preferred pedaling on two wheels to virtually any other hobby.
As I got older, the bike was a way for me to challenge myself and gain independence. Throughout grade school, I used the bike to get to and from school. I learned to venture farther and farther from home. When the house got boring, speeding around and jumping curbs was a thrilling and engaging pastime that left me tired and satisfied. The wind in my face continues to be a motivating factor.
Fast forward to now, my bike is my main method of transportation. Two miles from campus, getting to and from my classes on a bike is faster than walking, taking the car, or riding the bus. It's also more fun and aerobically challenging, which keeps me in great shape. Oftentimes, I find myself looking forward to my school days because I'll be able to ride my bike around campus.
The only true problem with this is the risk.
Riding around Tallahassee can be dangerous. Last semester, the biking community faced a great loss when a biker died after being hit with a car outside of Sweet Pea Café. It gave us a moment to reflect on bicycling as a viable method of transportation. This is not the first accident like this, and many have been scared away from using their bike because of accidents like this one.
There are a few things that bikers can do to keep safe, and a few things that drivers of cars can do to ensure that no biker dies from their negligence. Bikers can obviously use lights on their bike and wear helmets, increasing the likelihood they'll be seen and decreasing the likelihood of fatality in the event of a collision. If riding on any public street of any kind, lights and helmet are a must.
Drivers can keep their eyes on the road. There have been multiple instances where I ride in plain daylight and expected a driver to see me because I was crossing the road in front of them when they did not look up from their phone or simply were not paying attention. Last week I nearly got hit by a car on campus because the driver was not looking. Her lack of attention could've cost me my bike, my health, or my life; the car came an inch from hitting my bike. I hold no grudges; I'm a driver too, and sometimes we just aren't paying attention. But if you get that close to hitting someone on a bike, the best you could do is roll down the window and check on them. An apology might be in order. It's just good etiquette, but clearly, she was in a rush because she sped off.
Riding my bike is one of my forms of expression, and it's something I look forward to doing. However, not being able to ride safely is a major concern for all of us who ride bikes, and should be a concern for the school as well.