The News-Press, March 28, 2019
by Ken Gooderham
It’s not at all uncommon for fellow bikers to greet each other as they pass on the path, or for walkers to exchange hellos with a fellow foot soldier on their morning meander. (I’m not meaning to exclude runners, of course, it’s just that for some it’s hard to be friendly through the pain or oxygen deprivation.)
Maybe this congeniality is the vestige of small-town civility, or the cordial camaraderie of fellow travelers on the bike/ped path. Perhaps it’s just endorphins erupting from the exercise, another sign that biking and walking do you a world of good. (Anecdotal to be sure, but if a scientist were to assert that there’s a causal relationship between biking/walking and sociability, I wouldn’t argue with them.)
Actually, it may be far more simple than that: You’re likely to be likeable to people whom you can see and hear, people as vulnerable and accessible as you at that moment… people who aren’t encased in moving blocks of metal and glass, but who are traveling along at a more human pace.
We’re not talking about making fast friends here, but the simple social interactions that pass for pleasant these days (and couldn’t we all use a little more pleasant some days?). It doesn’t have to be someone you know or even recognize, although regular bikers and walkers often establish a wave-and-smile relationship with others they see regularly on their self-propelled travels through the world.
Sometimes, it’s just nice to be nice… although it can have other benefits. First, being aware enough to acknowledge others around you is usually not a bad idea, particularly if you are out where there are other larger things moving in your vicinity (like cars and trucks).
In those circumstances, it’s not a bad idea to wave at nearby drivers, particularly if they do something nice such as not block the crosswalk or back up so you can ride or walk by them. As the most vulnerable road user in that roadway relationship, it’s prudent to reinforce positive behavior… as well as just plain being civil.
Being aware enough to smile and wave also means you’re being aware enough to stay safe. Social niceties can grind to a halt once the earbuds or headphones go on, but that process also steals one of your key senses (hearing) that is crucial to stay safe (and not just be nice). Listening to motivating music or an interesting podcast can make the walk or ride go faster, but something loud enough to block the surrounding sound is also loud enough to keep you from hearing an accelerating engine or screeching brakes.
Being even tepidly pleasant to someone you pass on the path is also just good for you as a person – because that’s you recognizing the humanity of another person, something that can be in short supply some days and among some people. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to demonize people you can’t see and won’t listen to… but someone right there in front of you, doing something as innately human as walking, is worth a moment of niceness. Think of it as a way to balance out all the time you spend yelling at the TV.
Of course, if you want to be curt to your fellow walkers and bikers, that’s your right. Your loss, but your right.
However, you may have heard what some say about karma… and there’s no better way to see it in action than to see how people respond to one another in a setting where there’s no expectation in place (such as walking down a street). Walk around with a smile on your face, and you’ll probably see others smiling back at you (either that, or they’ll be wondering what you’re up to – its own karmic reward). Greet the world with a scowl, and you’ll probably get the same in return more often than not.
How you face the world is up to you. But I’m guessing you’ll find if you walk around like you don’t have a care in the world, by the time you get done you probably won’t..
Ready to ride or run?
Run? As the run schedule starts to slow down (and the temperatures start to go up), there are still a few events ahead: A Fort Myers 5K and Naples 10K on April 6, and a 5K run/walk at North Collier Regional Park April 13. Details at ftmyerstrackclub.com, 3dracinginc.com and gcrunner.org.
Ride? As always, a collection of Critical Mass events await: The Cape night ride is March 29, followed by the Fort Myers Slow Roll Saturday morning, with the original downtown Fort Myers night ride on April 5 night (meetup.com). For a longer option, there’s Cycling for Fallen Heroes on April 7, with 10/28/42/62 mile rides from the Trek Bike Store in Estero to benefit the Brotherhood Ride (active.com).
Both? Upcoming events include:
- Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri (trifind.com)
- Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
- Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (trifind.com)
- Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (trifind.com)
- Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
- Registration is open for this year’s Galloway Captiva Tri on Sept. 7-8, which offers a new format this go-round with the sprint race on Saturday morning and the kids’ events Sunday morning. Details at www.gearedup.biz/captiva-triathlon.
- Willing to drive? Check trifind.com or active.com for tris around the state.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at email@example.com, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.