One of the big things that kept me from adopting a bicycle-centric lifestyle was my complete debilitating fear of riding on the streets with cars. I could do it in Portland because of the nice fat bike lanes and because there were so many bikes that one could take safety in numbers. In Evanston even riding from the house to the Metra station, I would go through the neighborhoods rather than ride down the busier Central Street (busier, but not busy in any absolute sense.) Somewhere recently, I just lost the fear. Just this morning, I rode down Central without panic, even when giant trucks sped by and I only had 24 inches between the parked cars and the traffic. I think I can do this. Note that the fear has not been replaced with recklessness – I still have a very healthy respect for this swiftly moving large pieces of metal hurtling past. I can just deal with it now.
For a little added fun, although it was hot and muggy when I left the house, the temperature dropped steadily over the 10 minutes of my ride. Halfway there, it got downright chilly and had that feeling of imminent rain. I started belting out Toots and the Maytals “Pressure Drop” as loudly as I could whilst pedalling full speed. Imagine me rolling down Central Street, past the little shops and baby strollers and old folks meandering the sidewalks wailing out “When you feel it, the pressure gonna drop on you!” I’m sure it was quite the experience for the pedestrians!.
It remains to be seen how much life I can accomplish with the bike in lieu of a car in Conway, but my goal is to make that as much as possible. I like living like this and I hope to continue it to the max. As a bonus link, here’s the article about how traffic is safer without standard traffic controls and with cars, bike and pedestrians sharing the road (Salon link, so just endure the ad and you can read it.)