Offbeat Academia: Both bikes and cars can be careless

Even if it’s not your style, it’s beneficial to be a biker in the city.

So if you haven’t noticed, you’re in college. You’re probably low on cash and patience. And if you

haven’t noticed, you live in America, where gas prices and the failing economy have replaced the weather in idle conversation.

You’re in luck, however. There is something that makes sense: riding a bike, especially in Philadelphia.

Therefore, it seems very logical that Temple students should show interest in starting a bike share. Let’s celebrate common interests (our collective lack of funds) and form a group that hopes to provide accessible repair services and bicycles to the eager and enthusiastic.

“I think bike riding is important because it not only benefits your health, but also the health of the environment,” said sophomore business major Lauren Tazza, a hopeful member and helper of the bike share.

Although cycling provides for a convenient and clean alternative for traveling in the city, bicycles are not exactly widely tolerated or accommodated on the road. I think this should be the major goal of any bike cooperative: spread awareness and promote support. At the very least, the cars should not be riding your tail.

This kind of harmony, however, takes time and effort – on both sides. So, I’m not going to play the “us and them” game because I don’t think that really applies anywhere. I ride a bicycle as my main mode of transportation, but I won’t act as if I’ve never taken a ride in, driven or owned a car. Let’s be modest and understanding.

As for the drivers, please realize that you are the bigger animal in this skirmish. You have more control over the situation and you can do the most damage. Keep this in mind as you read this column and while you hold a driver’s license.

The one thing you should not do when encountering a cyclist is honk your horn. If anything, this will just startle the bike rider and she’ll end up swerving into your passenger side. Cyclists are within their rights to ride in a traffic lane if they so choose, just like cars. I never understood why cars on Broad Street were in such a hurry to get to the next red light.

Do you remember how you were taught to look both ways for cars? It’s the same way with bikes. When you’re opening your door to get out, check the rearview mirror first. That way, your open door won’t flip a rider over his or her handlebars.

And finally, don’t be nervous. If a cyclist is in front of you or weaving around cars during rush hour traffic, chances are they know what they’re doing. So don’t tense up when you see one, just keep alert and use your best judgments.

Like I said before, I don’t want to take sides, even though I know I sound biased. But I’ll say this: bicycle riders can be jerks, too. So to you men and women on two wheels: please don’t be overtly antagonizing. We – and by “we” I mean everyone – want peace on the road, right? So why smack, pound or spit on a car? Now you’re just being rude. Don’t step up on your anti-bourgeois soapbox. Firstly, you’re going to a university. Secondly, you can’t judge a person by his or her metal and fiberglass shell.

Above all, play it safe. There’s no worse or more embarrassing story than a cocky cyclist who got hit, or rather someone who was hurt because of a cocky cyclist. It is important to execute smart and cautious riding habits, as you are the vulnerable one.

So maybe I’ve just alienated myself by playing both sides of the fence, but I think it’s really important to see the view from both angles. Hopefully, the Temple bike share becomes a great success and receives ample acceptance throughout the campus and the community. However, I think that can only come with openness to new ideas.

After all, once the financial market crashes and the world ends, we’ll need some fresh and bright ideas.

Sarah Sanders can be reached at

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