by Susan Yamane
Did you ever own a bicycle when you were a child? Do you remember the freedom of taking off on two wheels because you couldn’t drive yet? As you got older you probably put the bike away and got a car like everyone else and maybe at some point you get another bike or maybe not. People get back on bicycles for different reasons. For some it’s leisure, others it’s competition, or a job as a bike messenger. There could be lots of reasons why to ride a bike after all it’s FUN.
As someone who is just curious by nature I watch, read and research. I even
researched about bicycles and bike culture. I do watch professional bike races on the television but now that I’m on a bike I feel like I have to be “out there” getting my miles and not watching it.
When you “like” something you go all out.
We here in Hawaii live with limited land. Alternative modes of transportation can and often do become a hot topic of discussion. Expense and where to put bicycles need to be considered. Bikes are an inexpensive way for people to get around town if that is your chosen mode of transportation.
There’s an initial cost. It also depends on what type of bike you want to get. Once you get past the initiation of buying a bike then you have to start sharing the road. Everyone who drives, rides a bike or is a pedestrian realizes the hazards of the roads so bike safety and infrastructure become an issue and how to best use the road space available. Not only is the bike an economical mode of transportation it can also benefit the environment. With more people on the road, bike storage and availability become an issue. Hawaii now has a Bikeshare program in several major metropolitan areas of Honolulu and expanding.
When I finally got out on the road I try to be mindful of what I am doing because miles has
become my meditation, but I started noticing other riders out there. Some doing their own thing solo and others in groups and on all sorts of bikes. There’s all kinds of mindsets out there to some people like to ride in packs, wear the same kits (jerseys), all they do is ride and ride for miles. 100’s of miles every week.
Other people are just recreational riders who like to get out and ride. No one way of riding is the correct way but there are MANY out there who feel their way is the ONLY way and are often referred to as “bike snobs”. The word “Fred” comes from a British touring cyclist named Fred Birchmore back in 1934. It was used to describe a male cyclist that didn’t conform to the norms of the “serious road cyclist” or “roadie” who bought expensive bikes, expensive kits, and might even ride on a team.
The term is now being used to describe other cyclists such as the ones who will watch a bike race like the Tour De France and then go out and buy an expensive bike like the professionals use and hardly ride at all. Or you can have the 3rd type of rider who might not be that bad of a rider, they might even be on a team, buys the expensive bike and kits but doesn’t win any events.
And you have the final “Fred” who is a local based athlete whose on a team, has the bike, kits, competes and even wins races now and again (Wikipedia).
In talking to non-cyclists out there I usually hear about how much of a nuisance bikes are. When I was out there I started paying attention to motorists and my own behavior. Those bike lanes are not just there for decoration, it’s the law! You would be shocked how many motorists are unaware that bikes are allowed to be ON THE ROAD with cars if they need to. But bikes have to abide by all the road rules that motorists do.
I started off being friendly when I was out there. After all, cars are bigger than you and if they stop to let you pass you should at least wave and say thanks. It’s just a polite thing to do. I noticed that cyclists can all look alike. You can’t tell one apart from the other unless you can tag a bike that’s zipping by you at 15 to 20 mph. I’m a female cyclist so I decided to differentiate myself from other cyclists and put pink on my handlebars. Because I’m fairly new to road cycling I’d sometimes find myself in a jam (it happens). I noticed cars would stop and let you cross if you had pink and they knew you were female.
I still waved if they let me cross. So even despite those two things I still try to be polite to motorists and if a cyclists spots me and I’m not too tired I’ll wave. Cyclists really need to learn to WAVE at each other. Because we are ALL on the road it’s important to make the road safe for EVERYONE. Not just motorists.
Dedicated in loving memory to: Ruth Schornstheimer Isaak Lyle