“RIDE YOUR BIKE ON THE SIDEWALK” the lady yelled to me from the safety of her van, stopped at a red light. I considered her strangely, before turning back to pay attention to the road I have to traverse that has no bike lane.

The sidewalk, I might have explained, is much more dangerous. That’s where I fell a few weeks ago because the sidewalk is uneven and there are light posts directly in the center and trash cans on Wednesday. I scraped my leg and both arms and I had to tell my boss when I got to work that no, I wasn’t wearing a helmet.

I feel the terror in my body every day now, swaying consciously to my right because I know if I fall left I will break my neck. I will contort against the the sidewalk in a way that is unnatural while my upper body will stretch past the curb to the street and I will die. Or worse, live the rest of my life paralyzed with no legal way out. I will be Terri Schiavo and a burden on my family, but a champion of fetus rights to people who have never met me. 

Falling right is safer, but it has its problems. If I ride on the street and fall right, it’s an awful reverse. My neck will still hit the curb but my head will slam hard against the sidewalk before it has a chance to break. Red concrete.

I could always get hit by a car on the street, I know. But the sidewalk isn’t perfect. Thanks for thinking you could save my life there, lady, but I know these thoughts everyday. There is no safe place for the bike outside of the bike line. I should wear a helmet. 


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