I live in Compton now, and my biking range goes all the way to downtown LA, though it's been a while since I've done a ride. I do not bike as much in Long Beach.
The days of biking are gone for the time being, mostly because of a job.
But even when I get on a bike, I'm not as freewheeling as I used to be.
Maybe I'm getting socialized into fear.
Maybe I'm getting older.
Maybe I've gotten too sensitive to the stories I occasionally read on BikinginLA. Stories of
fallen bicyclists and pedestrians, whose names occasionally whir in and out of local news with little fanfare or visible outrage.
Maybe I've lost too much trust in drivers and the social fabrics. I've read too many stories about bikers in LA on sites like LA Weekly and KPCC, and people not on bikes largely remain brazen and entitled to their cars and retain a largely accusatory attitude towards bicyclists as if there are no bicyclists who drive.
Maybe I've gotten too sensitive to the numbers. Recently, the Governors Highway Association found that California leads the nation in bicycle deaths.
I know that there is a small chance, a 1 in 4919 chance of getting hit and being killed on a bicycle, which is actually a much smaller chance than dying from a motor vehicle accident. Death on a bicycle is the 17th most common way to die according to Medline. Motor vehicle accidents are 8th. Not that I would rather die by car in car, but at least there are some safety features that might be able to protect me, whereas if I am hit by a car, it's my body exposed and hopefully the damage is minimal.
All this worrying has gotten to me.
I'm ALWAYS looking over my shoulder nowadays, sometimes even when there is a bike lane.
For the first time in my adult biking career last week, I biked a route more on the sidewalk than on the actual street. Even in the vaunted "most bike-friendly city" in the nation.
The streets that got me shook? A couple east-west streets. It would be no big deal for most veteran bicyclists, but if I'm riding it, there are probably lots of people who are also not, and are probably sidewalking it.
- 7th Street on the way to CSULB, which is bad as a morphs into a 3-lane speedway on the way to the 22 East freeway.
- Willow on Signal Hill, which has 3 lanes, an uphill, and a 40 MPH speed limit