The most important aspect of my first bike came in the form of a guide to “rules and regulations of operating a bicycle on the roadways.” I wish to God that everyone today also had to read the rules of the road. When I’m on my bike, I do. When I’m driving, I know others haven’t a clue. Everyone with a car imagines that everyone on a bike knows what he or she is doing. (They don’t.) Everyone with a bike imagines that everyone driving a car knows what he or she is doing. (They don’t.) Imagine, for instance – in either situation – someone is just learning. There’s an accident waiting to happen. There are innumerable instances that can be listed here. I won’t bore you.

And, remember this is wine country. A lot of people are on the road who have been enjoying wine. When I worked at wineries, I saw a lot of people who were well over their limit… Proceed with caution, drivers of both machines.

I Love My Bicycle

Years ago, when I was only 12, I got my first bicycle. It was a Christmas day. I had spent the entire month of December praying really HARD for snow, but it never came. (Unanswered prays, and it was Christmas! That was a good lesson for a growing up Catholic kid.) My birthday was on December 21, and it passed by like all others who are born too close to Christmas, with the morning “Happy Birthday,” then it was life as usual. That Christmas day, my four siblings all got great gifts, and I got a few small ones, like pencils, socks, mittens.

Yup, this was turning out to be the worst Christmas ever. I was guessing by now that that’s what happens when you hit double digits, and you’ve got three younger siblings… Christmas was now all about them now.

Then, as the Christmas tree skirt lay empty of all gifts, and we were all about to move into putting our gifts away and moving toward our Christmas meal, my mother said, “Oh, wait, we’ve got one more gift,” which she handed me. It was a small 2-by-6 inch gift, wrapped in a brown paper bag. As I opened it, I couldn’t imagine what it was. When I reached my hand into the bag, I felt something metal and pulled it out. I was a red and white (at the time, that was everyone’s color) bicycle license. My eyes opened as wide as any kid’s eyes could possibly open, my heart flipped into my throat and I ended up jumping up and down uncontrollably for at least five minutes. A Christmas in Maine with no snow! Let me out the door and “Syanara, Baby.” I got in two good weeks, before the snow finally fell for that winter…

I spent the rest of the winter reading my rules and regulations of the road, and that made the rest of my bicycle riding, to this very day, much more safe for not only me, but also the cars on the road. I’m no saint in life, but I do follow the rules of the road, because my dad also owned an ambulance service. I was there for years when calls would come in. Nothing like there are today, given the nature of bike riding becoming so competitive; but accidents have always happened, since we first learned to walk.

In wine country, we live with two factors

  1. Road rage drivers
  2. Entitled bicyclists

The other side of this coin is the following:

  1. Drivers who are patient
  2. Bicyclists who respect the rights of drivers, too

I’m not writing about the latter group, because they’re the positives on the side of this coin. I’m going to take on the other two sets of people.

To Road Rage Drivers

Get yourselves into an anger management class. Life’s too short to hold such negativity for the health of your body, if for no other reason. You’re setting yourself up for diseases like hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. Are the people, who you’re allowing to make you so angry, worth it? Remember, we give our power away, and every time you get ticked off at anyone in your way on the road… You’ve just shortened your life… and maybe even the other person’s. Take responsibility and get yourself into a class to learn how to manage your emotions.

To Entitled Bicyclists

Get yourself a grip on how to also share the road. Being on a bicycle does not give you the right to disobey the laws, forcing drivers into having to take responsibility for your angry behavior with all drivers. Some of you hate us all… and it’s easy to tell who you are… Being in the wrong does not make you in the right lane. Review your rules of the road.

Thoughts from CA. gov site:

Each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions. Some bicycle related crashes are connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention.

Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Refer to the California Driver. Motorists must look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes, and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.

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