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I’m not going to lie, I’ve had enough panic attacks lately to keep me huffing and puffing for days. After trying to ride my bicycle to work and home on a daily basis, I’ve learned that I’m no macho man. Us skinny, muscleless guys usually aren’t, but it just took me a few weeks of biking on the Henry County roads to figure that out.
In reality, it can get a bit scary out there: big trucks, deer, hills, curves, dogs, crazy drivers. I quickly figured out that Henry County roads are a scary place to be when you’re traveling 18.6 miles per hour along the side of a 55 miles per hour zone. Yikes.
I started my bike-to-work-and-home strategy three weeks ago to save money from the outrageous gas prices, to get in a little more exercise, and just because I enjoy riding a bike. After all, my bike trip from my house in Shelbyville to Florida in 2005 wasn’t pure misery the entire time.
Just two weeks after I started the commute though, I gave it up. Putting my manhood in doubt, I’ve decided it’s just too dangerous. I swear I thought I was a goner a few times out on the roads. Every time I hear a horn now, I cringe. Henry is no bike-friendly county — that’s for sure.
Just to let you drivers out there know, bicycles are legally considered vehicles, which means riders must obey by the street rules and drivers must treat these riders like another vehicle on the road.
Here are some Kentucky rules for bicyclist: use hand signals to communicate your actions to other vehicles; obey the instructions of official traffic-control signals and signs; ride a bicycle on the right side of the road with traffic; do not ever ride on the sidewalk.
Here are some Kentucky rules for motorists: share the road with bicycles; pass a cyclist only when it can be done safely and give ample room (three feet) between your car and the cyclist; when you are turning right after passing a cyclist, leave ample room so you don’t cut the cyclist off when you slow for your turn.
I will say this, we (cyclists) are not privileged. We have the same rights, rules and responsibilities as all other highway users. But we are fragile on our 20-pound bikes (versus 3,000-pound cars), so we just ask that cars slow down when approaching and make sure it’s safe to go around for our sake and oncoming traffic.
I’m sure I’ll still go out for rides in Henry County, maybe even bike to work every once in a while, but my daily commuting days are officially over. I got tired of getting chased by dogs, run off the road by big trucks and being the “smelly guy” at work. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s over for now.
But if you happen to see someone out on a red Mongoose road bike, hugging the white line to the right, try not to run him over. I’ve already said yikes too many times.
Tommie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.