Recently I have had to trade my bike for a different mode of transportation - at least partial transportation. They certainly are not as fun, but this form of transit has provided me with a lot of food for thought.
This is the first time in my life I have had to use crutches and I have found the behavior of others quite interesting. I am slow, clunky, and inconvenience people while using public transit - but they accept it. Not only do most people accept my presence, they willingly inconvenience themselves for me and exercise high levels of patience.
- No one has yelled at me for slowing them down while I hobble down steps.
- People stand aside and wait for me to get on subway cars.
- Those comfortably sitting offer me their seat.
What I find interesting is that not a single person asks why I am using crutches. They treat me kindly, but who knows, I could have hurt myself . . .
- Kicking a kitten
- Robbing their bank
- Stealing candy from a child
I did not injure myself inflicting harm on human or animal kind, but I find the juxtaposition between the treatment on my crutches and the treatment on my bicycle fascinating.
When on my bike I often treated like a criminal. I am robbing people in cars of precious seconds. Seconds most likely not spent with loved ones or on helping human or animal kind, but spent on the isles of big box grocery stores, fast food restaurants, or couches placed in front of television sets. I am honked at, yelled at, swerved at, have had things thrown at me, and am an object of utter disdain. The ironic thing is, as a cyclist I -
- Cause less wear and tear on the roads, possibly saving tax money from having to be spent on said roads.
- Am not polluting the air.
- Am one less car at the light.
- Am likely to help reduce their health insurance rates because cycling is a healthy activity which likely results in fewer health complications than eating French fries while driving a car.
- Am not going to cause as much damage to their car, or to them, as another car would if I hit them.
These are but a few of the possible benefits, but my point is that when on crutches people give you the benefit of the doubt, but on a bike all bets are off - I am often treated like public enemy number one. Humans are such interesting creatures. This Walt Disney cartoon, made over 60 years ago, sums up what happens to people when they get into a car.
Even though people treat me better while on crutches, I can't wait to get back on two wheels.