Fear of Traffic
[NOTE] I’ve resolved to blog more often about biking. The Trans-Ohio trip is still a go but first I have to complete a four day trial run down the Great Allegheny Passage (Pittsburgh to Cumberland and Back). Mostly though I’ll blog about my daily commutes (4.5 miles one-way) and thoughts there of.
At the ripe old age of 50-something I’ve just learned that I’ve been battling anxiety (and NOT depression) for most of my adult life. That is a story for another day but what this means is that I need to be more conscious of situations that increase my anxiety which will then permit me to employ beneficial coping strategies so that I can better deal with the situation at hand.
Enter my new-found love of bicycling. A little over a year I began commuting to work. My fear of traffic had me retreating to the “safety” of the sidewalk. For a while I was OK with dodging the occasional pedestrian but I quickly learned that I was all but invisible to drivers and the near-misses were becoming too frequent. I’m talking mostly about near-misses with drivers pulling out of parking lots or side streets.
So now I’m out in traffic and far more visible AND my anxiety levels are through the roof. I’m trying to focus on the benefits I’m receiving by commuting but I’m constantly checking my mirror for unobservant drivers. Most of my route is on four lane (two in each direction) road but road that is moderately busy during rush hour. Essentially though I’m waiting to be hit and I wonder how long I’ll be able to deal with this level of anxiety before I give up.
In celebration of Bike Month, I wanted to ride to my daughter’s soccer game but the route there takes me through some very busy streets in the teeth of rush hour. In the end, I’ve asked my wife to pick me up en route to the game. I feel sad for the opportunity of cycling on a new route being lost due to my fears. I don’t want my worries to become a self-fulfilling prophecy but I believe the safest assumption as a bike commuter remains that everyone is trying to kill you all the time and you must be hyper-vigilant in order to survive which reminds me of a goal I once read, “my intention is to live forever; so far so good!”