I saw David Byrne on a bicycle the other day.
Actually I saw a white-haired man with a slightly bird-shaped haircut.
“He looked like David Byrne.”
“It probably was him,” my husband said.
After he performed here in concert last summer, he blogged about riding his bicycle on the trails.
Those of you who know how strongly I feel about bicycling–it is not only fun, it is a life-style–will understand why I like David Byrne. I loved Byrne in the Talking Heads, and he is even better as a solo artist, but it is Byrne, author of The Bicycling Diaries, who has won my musical loyalty.
In an op/ed piece for The New York Times, “This Is How We Ride” (May 26, 2012), he wrote:
I’ve used a bike to get around New York for decades. There’s an exhilaration you get from self-propelled transportation — skateboarding, in-line skating and walking as well as biking; New York has good public transportation, but you just don’t get the kind of rush I’m talking about on a bus or subway train. I got hooked on biking because it’s a pleasure, not because biking lowers my carbon footprint, improves my health or brings me into contact with different parts of the city and new adventures. But it does all these things, too — and sometimes makes us a little self-satisfied for it; still, the reward is emotional gratification, which trumps reason, as it often does.
It is spring and we’re biking again. I love the breeze in my hair, seeing the trees and gardens close-up, hearing the birds, and feeling part of the scene. I like the effect on my blood pressure (very, very low, to my doctor’s astonishment) and general health. (Even if you’re overweight, bicycling, an easy sport, will improve your health.) Three seasons of the year, I bicycle for transportation. If there’s not snow, I ride in winter.
I got my first bicycle at the age of four and have cycled ever since.
Bicycling is more energy-efficient (really, you can’t get more energy-efficient) than driving and it is cheap. I paid $500 for a bicycle in 2003. I have had to replace the seat and pedals, but otherwise it’s still going strong.
I ride about 1,500 miles a year. Our city has bike lanes, bike trails, and a bike-share program (a rental bike program by which you can ride very cheaply from station to station downtown).
Many cars, alas, do not like to share the road with bicyclists. One year a mad driver, possibly drunk, stopped his car downtown and yelled at my husband and me to get off the road: it was Sunday and we three were the only people on a four-lane street. Once I was pelted with a Coke can and another time with apples by passengers in a car. I could have written down the car license, but let’s just say I preferred to live.
Horrifyingly, in accidents where a driver kills a bicyclist, the sympathy is often with the driver.
Not always, though. Last year, when a 58-year-old bicyclist, Gerald Williams, was killed in a tragic hit-and-run accident in Lenox, Iowa, people were outraged when the killer, 33-year-old Jessica May Brown, was not charged with manslaughter. She claimed later, after she was caught, that she thought she’d hit a deer.
Williams’ wife, who was out of town, had reported him missing when she couldn’t contact him. Twenty-four hours later, searchers found Williams dead in a ditch.
Brown had to pay a $500 fine for failure to stop at an assured clear distance, with a statutory surcharge of $175 and court costs of $60.
It sounds like manslaughter to us.
So ride (right) on, bicyclists! But watch out for cars. Some drivers hate bicyclists, runners, and pedestrians.
And here are the Red Hot Chili Peppers singing “The Bicycle Song.” As they say, “How could I forget to mention the bicycle is a good invention?”