Bike with a Buddy is the theme of this years Bike to Work Day. Sure it sounds a little corny, but this really is an ideal time to ease a bike-skittish friend onto two wheels. Many of this months events are aimed at new riders. Nothing helps build someones confidence like being accompanied by a more experienced rider.
I recently invited two bike-skittish friends on rides, then asked about their experiences:
Skittish Friend #1
Ardy Tibby, 57. Had not ridden a bike in over 30 years. House-sitting in SF with plans to move here.What scared you before you got on the bike?? Besides the traffic? I wasnt sure if I would be able to do it physically. Im 57, and I dont challenge myself in bodily ways anymore! I thought I would have to bend over in one of those racing positions, and I would fall over.
What was the biggest surprise about riding? I didnt realize that I could ride a cruiser bike and sit up, just like when I was a kid. It was really comfortable and easy, and I guess riding a bike is something you dont forget. Plus, there wasnt any traffic! By the time we were halfway to the flea market I felt pretty secure. I knew what I was doing and could handle it O.K.
How do you feel now? Good. Flush and successful. Being out in the air was wonderful! When I move to the city Im going to get a bike for sure. Before you took me for the ride I dont think I would have considered getting a bike. I do now.
Skittish Friend #2
Ginger Hellmann, 30, Urban Archaeologist, graduate student at Sonoma State University. SF resident. Her brother was killed on his bicycle by a hit and run driver when she was 13.
Hey Ginger, lets bike to the Castro. O.K., but I dont want to get gored by a car. They have the power of the metal shell around them. But I want to try. I want to get over my phobia. And its a great way to get in shape.
When did you last ride? Im riding a bike now on the [Sonoma State] campus. My boss bought bikes for us to get around.[We arrive in the Castro via Valencia bike lanes.]
How was that? I like the bike lanes. They make me feel safe because its a dedicated place [for bikes].
Any other worries? I dont want to run into pedestrians. Thats why I like the bike lane. In theory, everyone is supposed to share the road, but as a cyclist you dont have protection.so sometimes I ride on the sidewalks. But I dont want to hit pedestrians.
Will you bike again? Absolutely. When I get my job in San Francisco I hope to bike every day. Even though I dont want to deal with traffic its such a good form of exercise and efficient. And I like noticing the buildings and the trees. But the traffic still scares me. It probably always will.
BY MARY WINGS