Cycling in America
I’ve gone on just a couple of short bike rides here in the US this trip. I’m borrowing a road bike and my first ride on it was frustratingly slow as I was still figuring out the gears, brakes, and riding position. I was also skittish on the bike paths since we had to navigate through areas clogged with bike-unaware pedestrians. Of course you come across inattentive pedestrians in Finland, too, but on this path people and their kids/dogs were meandering along the path, not picking a side, and it made me nervous to ride at any kind of speed (didn’t help that I was still figuring out the brakes, too). In Finland there is a general, established awareness of pedestrians and cyclists, and anywhere outside of the very center of the city you can ride pretty fast without worrying about people wandering in front of you.
Then yesterday I rode on the road, in a bike lane. That felt better! I could go fast and there were no pedestrians around. But: there were cars. I think I must have still been in “cars can see me and are paying attention to me” mode because it didn’t feel scary hardly at all. I only got nervous once my riding companions got nervous, as we approached stretches of road without a bike lane and we’d have to share the road completely. In Finland if there are gaps in the bike paths, I feel confident riding on the road. As I said, there is a shared general awareness of pedestrians and bikes, especially when they have to share spaces. And our ride yesterday was fine! But I definitely have a renewed appreciation for the cycling infrastructure we enjoy in Finland.