While living in Miami, FL, I had toyed with the idea to ride my “Target Special” bicycle to the gym and around my neighborhood. Being a “Bike Noob”, I clung desperately to the sidewalk with fear as I made my way around town.
Having to deal with cars, trucks, and buses was too much to ask. It took forever to get anywhere! I gave up riding the bike out of pure frustration. It was sent to its resting place in the backyard, where it had been waiting quietly in the previous ten years.
Fast forward to 2006. When I moved to Orlando three years ago, I decided to locate housing close to work. Little did I know that I would find such in the two weeks I had before starting my new job. The area looked good, especially with such little recon. Car traffic was minimal and we drove around effortlessly. Car use was still our main source of transportation. October 2007 would be the beginning of my “enlightenment!”
A co-worker, an avid cyclist from Miami, FL, would entice me to try riding my bike to work. I felt that commuting would be possible, except for the fact the sidewalks ended about halfway and would be forced to ride the road. Not what I really wanted to do. We both were gutter bunnies, while on the road, and it made for a very stressful ride to say the least.
One day while surfing the internet, I decided to search for bicycle laws. One of the first hits was the Florida Bicycle Association website. After reading there, I surfed more and came across our blog CommuteOrlando.com. Interesting enough, both FBA and CommuteOrlando referenced Street Smarts, by John Allen. I requested my free copy and read the online version numerous times in anticipation of the hard copy. I would recommend you get yours today.
Finding the Florida Statutes, led me to the fact that bicycles ARE vehicles and ARE allowed use of the road. Imagine my astonishment that after getting off the sidewalks and taking the road, I reduced my commute by 8-10 minutes. No more waiting for cross-walk signals, no more having to save my friend from becoming a hood ornament due to right hand turning cars, and no more NOT BEING SEEN by drivers!
My ignorance was no more. I began studying all I could about bike laws, commuting, vehicular cycling, and bike maintenance. It has been almost two years since taking up the commute and cycling and it feels great. I am no longer dependent on the auto for my local transportation needs. Self-reliance is an awesome thing!
However, ignorance still exists, even here on our blog. But what exactly IS ignorance?
Dictionary.com defines ignorance as follows:
- the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc.
- The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed.
- The condition of being ignorant; the want of knowledge in general, or in relation to a particular subject; the state of being uneducated or uninformed.
By utilizing blogs like CommuteOrlando.com and others of the like, we can gain insight and learning from others on how to change our thinking, our way of doing things, our way of making a positive change in ourselves and our communities. But alas, there are those who do not or will not agree to see how to make things better for themselves and others.
The term “willful ignorance” better describes the state of those, who after being given correct and proper information, choose to stay their misguided course. We are only human and there is no one right answer for everything or everyone. Ignorance is one thing, but willful ignorance is another.
The goal of CommuteOrlando.com is stated on the home page as:
This site is dedicated to Orlando Metro Area cyclists who are currently using their bikes for transportation, or want to. Commuting by bike is a great way to save money, get exercise, unwind and feel like you’re doing something good for yourself and the environment.
The state and local governments enact laws to protect us form ourselves. Some help and others don’t. As users of the roads, we cyclists (as vehicle drivers) are to obey and adhere to the laws as if we were driving our cars (after all, we are using the roads, right?) Even pedestrians have to obey the laws put into place to protect them!
Vehicular cycling has been an eye opener for me. I can easily, effortlessly, and confidently control my bike in just about any traffic condition. Does this mean that I always have to take the main arterials? Nope!
Making the transition from car to bicycle, the “get-there-itis” mentality fogs the cyclists point of view. We no longer have to think about taking the most direct, widely used, heavily congested route. Sure, it may take a few minutes more to zig-zag the neighborhoods, but I have found out that the ride is much more enjoyable and I don’t have to keep looking at the SUV’s tail lights ahead of me coming on every 5 seconds!
Vehicular cycling, a highly recommended tool embraced by many on this blog, isn’t a panacea for our woes, but it is very effective in our gaining confidence in our skills to safely navigate our roads and streets. Vehicular cycling is a tool, people. For some, it has become a way of life and it can be both. Too often the properly educated cyclists suffer from the attitudes of motorists that all cyclists are scofflaws and hoodlums that don’t command respect, don’t belong, and shouldn’t be on the road.
CommuteOrlando.com is trying to change the perceptions of our communities and country. By acting with respect towards other users of the roads and practicing vehicular cycling on the road, we are making progress with this blog and others of the like.
For those willfully ignorant, give yourself a chance. This blog can help you to understand a better way to ride. My own ignorance was cured and I am learning how to do things better every day. Together we can make a difference. The bicycle is making a comeback.
Choose to be one of the front runners of the effort before the masses get the idea! God Bless and Tailwinds!