Read Part 1 here.
In October 2010, I went on my first night ride ever – I didn’t even ride at night when I was a kid, so it was a very exciting adventure for me! Until I almost got hit by a car. I was riding down a main street in town, and there was no traffic in either direction (thank goodness). I was only wearing a flashing LED light around my neck and am armband reflector. I admit, I did not have the legally-required headlight on my bike, though I don’t think this would have made a difference. A car came barreling out of a church parking lot, the driver not even looking in either direction, and I swerved into the other lane, and barely righted myself as he drove off. I suspect he was looking for the glow of headlights in his peripheral vision and when he didn’t see it, he just rode on out.
After that, I became extremely scared of riding at night, though I realized that it was largely – perhaps entirely – my fault. It is every cyclist’s obligation to make themselves as visible as possible at night. So…I bought myself a reflective vest with LED lights embedded along the front and back, an LED headlight for my bike and LED spoke lights for side visibility.
I ventured out at night again (around 9PM) in mid-November. The temperature was in the 30’s, but I felt invigorated and was so excited with my little “light show.” I felt confident the drivers could see me, and thankfully, there weren’t that many to begin with at that hour of the night. Unfortunately, I realized that my lights would draw all kinds of attention, and sure enough, that night, on a deserted side street, I passed a young man who kept yelling at me to get off my bike and come talk to him, that he thought my lights were so cool and wondered if I had a cigarette. Nothing happened, but the encounter scared me a bit. And that’s the last time I ever rode at night. Though I hope to try it again someday soon.
As winter came along, I continued to bicycle orders to the post office fairly often through Christmas. (The only times I really didn’t bicycle were when we had snow on the ground – our neighborhood’s streets do not get plowed during the winter, so it is impossible to ride the first mile to the post office.) After that, I slacked off a lot (though not entirely) for the next three months.
Once “spring” came around (I use that term loosely since we technically don’t have a spring in this area), I felt inspired to recommit myself to defaulting to the bike rather than the car. I also had a new tool at my disposal: a handlebar basket! I had received it for Christmas, but it sat in the garage for months, as I didn’t know how to attach it. I finally asked a friend, and was disappointed to find out that my handlebars are too thick to accommodate the mount for the basket. My disappointment was short-lived, however, as my friend is a very talented amateur machinist and within a week, he had created a sturdy metal mount for the basket that I must say, is superior to the one that came with the basket!
This basket has been a lifesaver for me. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy having it. It’s a little tricky to have on – it weighs down the handlebars and pulls them to the side when I park, causing the bike to fall over if I’m not careful (and even more so when it is full of stuff). And the heavier it is, the more careful I have to be when steering in order to keep the balance (though I’ve noticed that the more I ride with it, the easier it gets). But I LOVE this basket so much. It’s so cute, and it made me so excited to go out and run errands. It has made things a lot easier for me, in terms of storage capacity.
Stay tuned for the story of my bicycle trailer and my new bicycle adventures…