City commute

With apologies to my parents: possible life-threatening situations mentioned.

Dark by 5:30 pm, late October. Not ideal for biking...

One of Matt’s colleagues came over this morning to buy my beautiful green bike.  I’ve asked him to accept a clause in the purchase that I can buy it back from him if he is getting rid of it, or if I ever miss it too much.  Yes, I am that pathetically attached.  But I actually felt better knowing it was going to a good home.

I had been considering turning the bicycle into my winter commuter bike, tricking it out with snow tires with knobs and lots of lights and panniers. There’s a bike path most of the way to my work, and I like feeling strong with this kind of regular riding.

Instead, I think I am going to take the safe route:  I put my fancy bike in storage this morning in the green one’s place.  I’m heading abroad for several weeks’ travel (including some time to spend Thanksgiving in California with my family).  By the time I get back here to Sweden, it will be dark most of the time, and presumably cold and snowy (though who knows — the past week or so has been unseasonably warm, perfect biking weather).

But part of me is also ready for a break from the city commute: I am tired of competing with folks on the road, driving and talking.  Stockholm seems to have no laws about cell phone use in the car.  I find myself striving to make eye contact with drivers, slowing to a cautious stop at intersections.

At the same time, I am a screaming banshee on the bike path, yelling at pedestrians to get out of my way.  I am certain a break from the commute will be good for my adrenalin, cortisone, and overall stress levels, despite the joy of riding and the high from physical exercise.

Ghost bike: The candles and flowers surrounding the white bike have been fresh for weeks, and I find them heartbreaking every time I pass. And a reminder of how quickly things can change, how an activity that is healthy and good for the planet is also extraordinarily dangerous.

And to be frank, I have been getting freaked out a bit by the ghost bike that stands watch over a corner I take every morning on the way to work.  A woman about my age was struck by a truck and killed in September. The driver of the vehicle was turning right, into the cyclist’s right of way and on a path that goes up a hill — I have no idea how the driver did not see her.  He should have seen her as he passed her by on the uphill portion, as she pumped her legs in a dedicated bike lane.  Perhaps he was on the phone.

********
SvD had an article about the number of cyclists killed in Stockholm by trucks turning right into a bike lane: http://www.svd.se/nyheter/stockholm/hogersvang-en-dodsfalla-for-cyklister_6581295.svd

And the Atlantic ran this story that got me thinking a bit about cell phone laws: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/10/abu-dhabi-traffic-accidents-dropped-40-during-blackberry-outage/43784/

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