I am getting mighty sick of the myths surrounding bicycle riding. As I am not in the mood for diplomacy tonight I am just going to go out on a limb and call "bullsh*t" on the whole lot of them. For the sake of something to do other than watch TV or scrub my sink out I will now present several instances of why these myths are simply myths and why they should all be chucked in the rubbish bin.
For the next few days, I will present, in no particular order, the counter to several of the stupid myths that many people labour under. These myths prevent all of us from having better conditions and keep people from improving their everyday lives.
#1 Some people are too weak/old/handicapped to ride.
OK. Having spent over a decade treating some of the sickest and most debilitated people you could possibly imagine, I will concede that there are people in the world who can not ride. You would be surprised to know how few of those people actually exist.
This is the back of my step-father, Richard. I took this picture just a couple of months after he had a bi-pass. The bi-pass was performed to repair a previously bi-passed vessel that had collapsed repeatedly over the 13 or 14 years since it had been placed along with three others. I stopped counting how many joint replacements he has had two years ago. He has hearing aides in both ears. He was recognized as Permanently Disabled by the state several years ago because of these and other health issues.
On this ride, his first since before the last surgery, he rode 23 miles across the San Fernando Valley.
Richard can no longer ride a standard two wheeled bicycle because his balance is compromised. To compensate for this he has switched to a recumbent trike. He isn't as fast as he used to be and taking hills requires patience. But he rides. Does he do it exclusively? Of course not. He gets tired and has to conserve his energy, but he uses his trike when he can and tries to do his local shopping and small errands by pedal power.
He is also working to get better infrastructure in his town of Chatsworth, CA. Just because he can't use it all the time doesn't mean that others can't and he wants them to have better than the currently do.
This girl looked to me as though she may have Down's Syndrome. Her mother had to walk quite quickly to keep up with her. How amazing would it be if San Francisco had a bicycle network that was developed enough that this girl could ride around her neighborhood with her Mom everyday instead of just when we close the streets to traffic. She obviously has the ability to ride, she just requires the opportunity to do so. How much would that add to her life can only be guessed at, but I am reasonably certain it would be significant, for her and her family.
Bicycles are adaptable, much like people. We can add wheels, move pedals, change gearing... many of those who can not walk can, with simple accommodations, ride a bicycle in the same way that those who are considered "able bodied" can. I know for a fact that it would be easier for this woman to ride her adapted trike along the Waterfront than it would be for her to try and get on Muni in a wheelchair to go the same distance. Don't believe me? Try it.
Can't take a walk with you wife? How about a ride?
Don't tell these people they are too old to ride.
So there you have it. People in San Francisco who have mobility challenges can, and do, ride bicycles. I am quite sure they would all like a better bicycle plan to make sure they can continue to do so.
Myth further debunked here and here and here. and here