By Adam Berk ’15
Environmental Studies and Music Major from Denville, NJ
Riding a bicycle is a fantastic way to get from place to place. The “fuel” used is efficient and clean, and the “burning” of this fuel keeps you fit and is relatively silent. Luckily, the Colgate community can rent out bikes via our Green Bikes program for whatever rental period is desired. And while biking around campus is manageable, the state of the nation’s biking infrastructure is… shameful, at the very least, and it is one of the many ways that people are deterred from riding.
Although the hipster culture that often came hand in hand with biking may be on the decline, public use of and access to bicycles continue to grow, particularly in cities. But potential bicyclists often hold on many mistaken beliefs that steer them away from riding on the road. Perhaps the most prevalent is the idea that danger is characteristic of biking.
Yes, riding a bicycle can be dangerous, but much like driving, this is typically only if the rules of the road are ignored by drivers and/or riders! Furthermore, learning how to “ride a bicycle” is the minimum amount of training required to get to and fro. Knowing how to scan for traffic without swerving, getting off the seat before coming to a complete halt, make minor bicycle repairs, and position yourself based on the speed of traffic are just a few of the skills that are beneficial to a bicyclist. Regardless, bicycles are internationally recognized by law as vehicles, whose riders have the same right to the road as automobile users. Newer bicyclists should keep this in mind, as they may be fearful about being overtaken and possibly colliding by cars, though it would be more prudent to worry about other, more common dangers, especially since theses tend to be exacerbated by anxiety.
So what can be done besides waiting for road infrastructure to become more accommodating or for public opinion to change, or simply just “getting over it”? One of the easiest—and most fun—ways to become a safer and more confident bicyclist is to find others who share a similar interest in riding. If (after reading this post, perhaps?) you are feeling particularly passionate about biking, you could possibly even bring the Colgate Cycling Club back to life! Of course, cycling is not for everybody and there are more relaxing ways to learn without even having to ride. Whatever you do, however, be sure to wear a helmet whenever you ride—they might not always be stylish, but they are certainly more fashionable than head injuries. If you do not own a helmet, one of the many donated by the Shaw Wellness Program and Dean of College Division can be rented by contacting us at greenbikes@Colgate.edu or dropping by our office at 245A Ho. No matter how you do it though, do not be discouraged! The hardest part of riding a bike is the road.