Make me more comfortable with biking
May 22, 2012 7:09 AM Subscribe
You started biking later in life, and you did it in a big city. How did you become comfortable biking on roads with cars? I'm kind of freaked out by this.
posted by showbiz_liz to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (42 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I barely know how to ride a bike. I bought my first bike- a heavy 70s-era behemoth that was difficult to steer, and that someone really should have stopped me from buying- at age 20. I learned how to ride it in the sense of 'making it go in a direction,' but I was absolutely not comfortable biking on roads. The one time I tried biking to school in the bike lane, I practically had a panic attack. Some girls were walking in the bike lane, and in the heat of the moment I had no idea how to stop without falling into traffic and dying, so I hurled myself onto the grassy median to avoid hitting them. Then I walked my bike the rest of the way to school, and I never rode on the street again. I pretty much only used the bike on the bikes-only path from my house to the grocery store.
Now I am a bit older and less skittish, and I've learned how to drive a car, which I also couldn't do at age 20. And I have decided that the time has come to face my fears and get a bike, because I live in Brooklyn and it would make my life so much easier if I could just bike places instead of walking 15 minutes to my subway, taking it to Manhattan, transferring, going back to Brooklyn, and walking another 15 minutes. Also... biking is fun! When I was riding on a bike path with no cars around me and no complicated traffic laws to follow, I really enjoyed it. I plan to go to Recycle A Bicycle sometime this month and buy one.
However, I am still afraid of biking in traffic, and I don't know how to become unafraid. People die all the time from biking in New York, don't they? Of course I would always wear a helmet and all that jazz, and I wouldn't take my bike to Manhattan until I was way more experienced, but is there any way to get over the fear short of just... doing it?
I really do feel that it's stupid not to do this just out of fear, because hundreds of thousands of people do it every day, and it would make my life SO much better if I did it too. But I could use some advice on how to get comfortable with the idea of sharing the road with 2000-lb skull-crushing machines.
I do have friends who bike, and they want to help me, but they've all been biking since childhood, so they don't really understand my reluctance.