Remember to get a bike with brakes

By Annie Piekarczyk

I think I have to start with an apology to some of you – those whom I’ve sort of grazed with my bicycle when I’ve been hastily pedaling my way to classes. Sorry . but you got in my way.

Let me explain. I like to get to class on time. Wait. No. I like to get to class early. I hate to be rushed and I like getting there feeling prepared. It gives me this tiny feeling of satisfaction. And I love the aisle seats. So you can take your precious time moping to class, but I prefer to be there a little early. It’s just a good habit to start. So I usually end up pedaling my incredibly cheap bicycle all over campus to class, swerving between pedestrians, and screaming “Watch out!” here and there.

I mean, have you seen those bicycle paths? They’re tiny! So when I’m pedaling one way and there’s someone else pedaling straight toward me, what’s there for me to do but freak out a little bit? If you’ve seen me on the bike path, I’m sure you could account for my frightened face. It’s one of a kind, I have to admit. It’s a mix between a cringe of “oh God am I going to die today?” and hoping that my handlebars don’t jab into the other cycler’s arms when we pass by. I barely breathe and when we finally do end up passing and it’s over with, it’s like victory at a home football game. At least until the next bicycler starts coming my way.

And that’s not even mentioning the stress I go through when I actually come across pedestrians in my path. Note to those of you who walk to class: please, pretty please with a cherry on top, please don’t walk in the bicycle path. Unless you’re asking for it. Because you will get it. And by “it” I mean a really nice big bill from the hospital because you somehow ended up breaking all the bones in your body, because either I or another bicyclist Schwinned into you. So look out!

From what I’ve seen so far, I really should invest in a bell or a horn of some sort. I considered it, but I feel they’re a little obnoxious. Nonetheless, I guess you can’t get more obnoxious than screaming “Watch out!” to every pedestrian that gets in your way. What else can I say? “Whoa!” “Hey!” “Careful!” No . not nearly as personal as “Watch out!” Besides, I’ve become quite accustomed to saying it while riding my bicycle around campus. I even have to admit that sometimes it slips when I’m not even on my bike, which somewhat makes me cringe.

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I’m just trying to look out for the fellow bicyclists and pedestrians. Bicyclists are usually in the go-mode, I know I am, and stopping can sometimes be hard. Trust me, I know. It’s just that riding a bicycle is such a liberating feeling. After you’ve been on one, you just can’t go back to walking! With the wind in my hair and the path in front of me, I can do almost anything.

Almost.

Except stop. I didn’t mention this before, but I think it’s rather important that you know: my brakes don’t work. They did when I bought the bike an entire two weeks ago, but what can I say? That’s what I get for buying a $65 bike . It seemed like a good buy at the time, a bargain! I plan on getting it fixed soon, but like most of the campus population, my pockets aren’t so deep. And my Flintstones method of stopping has been working so far, but of course not in the favor of my Converse sneakers.

So basically, I can’t reiterate to you how important it is that you watch out. For bicyclists, for pedestrians . for me! Because literally, there is no stopping me unless you get in front of me. Which would be very bad for the both of us, don’t you think?

Annie is a freshman in broadcast journalism and is regretting buying the cheapest bike on the rack.