I CANNOT keep quiet any longer about this much heated debate of cyclists and motorists.
Having been a road runner for many years, I had to look at an alternative way of keeping fit due to my body taking too much strain from hours and hours of running. My husband introduced me to cycling, and soon I joined him and two other mates on their weekly rides.
I have always regarded (most) cyclists as arrogant. I still refuse to cycle in the "bunches", due to a number of factors.
My biggest fear when I go out cycling is not knowing what to expect from the motorists on the roads. I obey the road rules, I cycle single file, I indicate when I'm about to turn, etc.
I have a young family so I cannot take chances on the roads – I have to be diligent and alert while out cycling. What I've learnt from this exhilarating sport is:
- One can never relax as one constantly has to watch out for debris, potholes, motorists, pedestrians, taxis, stray animals and more;
- There are no designated cycling lanes in our city. We have no choice but to use the roads (and we are motorists too!);
- It is almost impossible to hear the traffic at times, due to the wind blowing in and past one's ears while cycling and the protective headgear we have to wear;
- Not all cyclists are arrogant. There are many helpful and humble cyclists out there who just enjoy getting out on their bicycles, like me.
Remember what it felt like as a child to be able to go and cycle, the freedom that it offered?
- Cycling is and will always be a dangerous sport. As I said, I am always petrified when I get on my bike but the moment I arrive home safely, it is such a rush and blessing to have been able to exercise without the pains I experience from running;
- I have seen some of the most spectacular sunrises when out cycling and also other beautiful scenes of nature when cycling out in the country.
I remember as a child we were taught to use the roads with respect. We were taught at primary school level how to use our bicycles on the road.
There were still cycling racks at schools in those days as well as cycling paths for us to cycle to school on. We were also taught to respect others and to exercise patience.
That, I think, is the fundamental issue here at stake, the fact that people (motorists and cyclists included) do not have patience and respect for each other anymore.
In fact, that is the core of all humankind's modern day problems. I pray for a world where people will tolerate each other, treat each other with respect and re-learn the "art" of patience.
I know this will not be the end of this debate, but it is my wish that my children and their descendants may one day too experience that wonderful feeling of just being "free" while out cycling.
Claudia Parker, Port Elizabeth