It’s a Sign

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Have you ever wished for a sign?

Me, too. And I got one!

A “No Turn on Red Sign” has been installed at the intersection where I was hit by an inattentive driver.

It is hard to explain how happy it makes me to see this sign. It feels like a big love letter just for me from Arlington County.

I am so grateful for the biking and bike advocacy community in Arlington and the DC area who I have gotten to know better in these last few months. The folks at WABA & BikeArlington are doing great work and offer many helpful resources.

I am especially grateful to Gillian Burgess of Kidical Mass Arlington and everyone else at the Arlington County Bicycle Advisory Committee who drafted and submitted a letter to the county manager requesting the “No Turn on Red” sign at this intersection. They specifically cited my being struck as an example for the need for the sign.

It is nice to know that sharing my story has helped improve a little corner of my community.

Can you see me now?

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I was on the road this morning at 5:45 a.m. It was cold, dark and rainy. As I heard the approaching car from behind me, I repeated my breathy  mantra while pumping up Wilson Blvd, ” Please see me, please see me”.

On days like this, the escape velocity to get out of the orbit of my warm bed inside my warm house is off the charts and feels nearly impossible.

Against all odds, I made it out and you know what? It sucked. Just a little but then once I made it to the gym,  I felt proud. It wasn’t really as bad as I thought it would be.

The irony of biking to a spin class is often hard for me to overcome but is it really any less ironic to drive a short distance to exercise at a gym?

Thankfully, the rain stopped while I was inside the darkened cycling studio that feels like a  post apocalyptic training center for those who are to compete in some kind of stationary TRON-like sporting event. Don’t get me wrong, I love these classes. Perhaps that is obvious to you based on what I am willing to do to attend one.

As I suited back up for the outside world, I put on all my reflective, hideously bright gear, turned on my lights and headed out for the trail. Back on the multi-use trail, I often notice or rather my vision is accosted by something.

Some people have insanely bright lights. Too bright. And they have them flashing. The rear light flashing, I get that. I do that. But why do they insist on turning my ride into a potentially seizure inducing, blinding rave from hell?

More is not always better. I know that you want to be seen and be able to see. Good idea! But if the other cyclists are blinded and the drivers annoyed, you may actually be more dangerous than the ninjas who like to go without lights and wear dark colors.

Virginia law requires that you have one headlamp that is visible at 500 ft. I am actually not sure how bright that needs to be. I intend to get scientific about it and investigate. Does anyone know if those cute little lights Bike Arlington & other organizations give out meet this requirement? I hope so because I love those lights!

I am fairly certain that the lights I have seen far exceed that requirement. I could be wrong.

But I stand firm in my assertion that a blinking front light is a terrible idea.

My final plea to my bright-lighted cycling compadres… Please consider the eyes of those that you will cross paths with and point those lights towards the ground and make them steady.

Learning to Ride a Bike

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On September 1st,  my daughter learned to ride her pedal bike ( as she calls it). Naturally, as parents, we are incredibly proud. She will be 4 in October.  This seems quite early to me and had I not seen other 3-year-olds riding two wheelers confidently, I would not have imagined it possible.

Balance Bike

We WERE aiming for an early start. Once we learned about the Skuut balance bike and saw a 2-year-old in action on one, the plan was in motion. We would start her on a balance bike and bypass training wheels.  In case you are unfamiliar, the balance bike is wooden and has no pedals. The movement is Flintstone style.  Once a kid gets the hang of it, they can push-off, lift their feet and glide down small inclines. Or go flying down big hills – mountain biking style – if their father happens to be my husband.

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I am another story, I didn’t learn until I was 10 years old. And based on that sentence alone, you can probably tell I felt that  I was “over-the-hill”. From my perspective as a kid, EVERYONE else had learned how to ride a bike without training wheels WAY before I had.

Perhaps, it was because I was a generally fearful kid who hated being embarrassed and was reluctant to ask for help. Or maybe it was my love affair with riding my Big Wheel. Much to the chagrin of those adults who might have had a little too much fun on Friday nights, my friends and I would ride the network of concrete sidewalks in Fairlington early on Saturday mornings. We would get out our plastic low-riding machines and make those hollow plastic wheels rip up a gravely sound as we raced each other. It was the coolest and I did not readily give up the experience.  When my knees started hitting my elbows as I rode, I should have probably taken the hint that it was time to move on.

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But NO, I had to wait for an awkward and embarrassing situation to get a clue. It was the day that Clayton traded up to a bike with a banana seat and when he offered to let me try it, I looked up from the comfortable plastic seat of my Big Wheel and said, ” No, I am okay. Oh, I know how to ride a bike, I just don’t feel like it.” Yeah, that taste of humble pie was my motivation.

 It was an eight year old boy named Ralph Ford who taught me to ride a bike. I have NO idea why Ralph took it upon himself to teach me to ride a bicycle. Maybe I begged him to teach me. I do remember that he was patient and kind and effective. I am forever grateful to him. After all, a great many wonderful adventures followed for me because I learned to ride a bike.

So, I am curious. How old were you when you learned to ride a bicycle?