By Maddie Fega
Woke up this morning ten minutes before I had to be at my running club group run. So I hopped on my new bike (which I bought a few days ago at a tag sale for $30), and headed down Fairmount Ave. to Kelly Drive, where the group was meeting. It was exhilarating and fast and fun to be out on the bike for the first time since being in Philly, and I felt as though I was totally ready for city biking. What I overlooked is that it was 5:50 am, so there were virtually no cars on the road, AND, Fairmount Avenue is by no means one of the busier streets in Philly. After a nice run with the club, a quick bike ride home, I was ready to venture out to the city on my bike to The Philadelphia Center, where I had class.
I started off fine, on a thin, one-way street with just one lane, and very few cars, still somewhat shaky on bike etiquette, but managed to figure out a few things within the first few minutes of the trek. Then I reached the merge into 15th street, where it transforms from a quiet, one-lane street, to a 3-lane, loud, crazy menace of a street. I had no idea what to do, no idea how to enter traffic, or rather, if to. I had never been so intimated by the street that I walk down nearly every day, and I was totally lost about how to finagle the busy, rush-hour streets of Center City, on a bike, whose tires, at any point, could crumble beneath me, gears could dismantle, and brakes could lose all functionality. Remember, I bought this bike for $30.
I ended up getting off and walking nearly the entire rest of the way to the Center. I’d sometimes get on my bike and approach entering traffic, but when I thought about the danger of that, I panicked. City biking, a skill I never thought necessary or difficult to pick up, is absolutely no joke. I think I’ll start off on the bike path that runs along the Schuylkill next time, and when I have to cut in, dismount and walk it in. It’s a practice, but until I get my helmet, and some more courage, this girl will keep to her walking shoes.