Slow Down and See the Earth

The other day while out on my bike, I was hit by a car. Not badly, thank goodness, as it just clipped me, but yet another calamity on my bicycle, the third in as many months – third time unlucky? It occurred while I was crossing at a pedestrian light. I saw the car waiting to turn right, or so I thought, but the driver just kept going and plowed into me.

My bike actually saved me, as the car mainly hit my back wheel and I managed to remain upright, uninjured. I was so shocked I just froze, while the driver got out of the car to apologize. As I seemed to be alright – and I was standing in the middle of an intersection – I just carried on.

I was only two blocks from my mom’s place, but it was enough pedaling for me to realize that something wasn’t right with the back wheel. It turns out it was buckled and needed to be replaced – a hefty misfortune, indeed.

There are so many upsetting things about this episode, including my not pulling myself together enough to get the driver’s details. Of course, the whole incident could have been a lot worse, but it could have been better too – not having occurred in the first place.

The truth is that cycling has become even more dangerous in this city, as many drivers are in a rush and simply don’t look where they’re going. One of my main joys of cycling is the ability to go at a slower pace, to take in what’s around, to stop check out a Little Free Library on the sidewalk or to pet a dog.

It’s this slow-paced enjoyment of our environment that’s constantly being eroded, most notably in our car culture, with many drivers so wrapped in their own bubbles, that they’re dangerously detached from the world outside their cars. Pedestrians, cyclists and animals are the ones that suffer the adverse consequences when this disconnect leads to erratic driving.

With Earth Day around the corner, it’s a timely message that we should all be more mindful, more aware of our environment and to slow down, stop and take a look before proceeding further. Apart from the countless benefits of being more present in our surroundings, it can literally make the difference between life and death.

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