Saturday, March 22, 2008

Biking in San Francisco with Mikey

As I locked my bike to a pole, a woman asked me, "You road here with him in that?" I smiled and said, "Yes." I take Mikey, my 23-month old son, on the bike to activities such as music class, the park, and play dates. He loves to chit chat as we cruise around, "that bike," that car." He plays a game where he taps my butt with his feet and giggles. He likes to cheer on my peddling efforts by singing, "around and around." He points out dogs, bikes, trees, and red trucks. The only downfall is the fear that someone might hit us with their car. I stay alert and on the sidewalks despite the rule that bikes should be on the road. But I still mumble a little prayer in my head as I go, "Oh please God, let us get home safely."

So, why do I bike if it's so dangerous? I do it because I enjoy bicycling. I do it because it's stressful to find parking. I do it because it's one of the benefits to living in San Francisco. I do it because it makes me happy. I do it because it makes Mikey happy. I do it to get exercise. I do it to save gas and not pollute. I do it because biking is one thing that I can do to help the planet. Are these reasons good enough to risk being hit with my baby on the back? No!

So then, why do I bike? I don't have a good answer. I guess it's like why we fly in airplanes or cross the street when the light is red. I depend on everyone to keep us safe. I hope people don't think, "Well, if she and her baby get hurt, it's their fault for biking." I rely on people to notice that we're biking and to use caution. I have hope that people are sensitive to the fact that I have a child with me. I trust people to feel concerned and to slow down. I can't bike safely without everyone's help. No amount of bike lanes or laws can do what compassion from others can do.

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