Plans for a long Tuesday bike ride were scuttled by this season’s cold, but that didn’t mean I was going to drive to my meeting in Waverly, lunch date in Station North, and acupuncture appointment in Hampden. I mean, really–drive there? Please. And contrary to what some folks might think, having a cold is no reason to lock yourself in a metal box to get from place to place, no siree. And the rides were beautiful–the yellows, reds, and oranges of Guilford Avenue, the empty streets of Waverly and Station North in the late morning, and that afternoon ride to Hampden ran me in to several other cyclists, all with different stay-warm and stay-safe strategies. One woman asked me when we were stopped at a red light if I ride year round and at night, and if it’s safe. Sure it is–just make sure you’ve got your lights, reflectors, and wits about you. Right, she said, but what about safety? All those vacant homes–it can’t be safe to ride your bike past them at night, can it? And I though about how quickly we learn that some places aren’t safe because of the people who might be there rather than because of how they’ve been made unsafe by city planning, infrastructure dis/investments, and ideologies of race, racism, and that general sense that poverty is in itself a crime. Is it safe to ride by vacant houses on your bike at night? There are so many tangles in that question, but for me the answer is simply, well, I’m going to ride my bike and that’s all I know for sure. And then I was locking up to a bike rack, getting my sinuses drained by needles, and then I stopped at the Royal Farms for a treat, because sickliness demands treats. Or lunch/dinner, according to this sign. For all the bluster about “safety,” look at the traps they’ve set up at this place–cigarettes, a public condiment bar, chicken that’s probably been there for hours. I went with the Crab Curls, all 2.5 servings in the bag. Safety in numbers, right?
But, is it safe?