Cyclists, get a bell
September 11, 2009
It was a beautiful, peaceful day with temperatures offering perfect running weather. I had just run along the Rio Grande trail from Henry Stein Park to the waterfall and was on my way back, feeling terrific. Cyclists, walkers, runners were all out, albeit not in the typical high-season numbers. As usual, the river mesmerized me. I stopped at the edge of the path to watch the water, the happy molecules and their parasitic companions flowing over rocks, under dead wood, around eddies. I asked myself the seemingly unanswerable: “What is it about the water that makes me want to be it … not just in it, but of it? I was thinking of the wonders of nature, of the universe; feeling grateful, feeling part of it all. The discussion in my mind went something like: “Yes, I wish for health and happiness for Chloe and myself, for my loved ones and family, friends. Hell, why stop there? I wish for health and happiness for everyone!” I drifted into new thought: “Should I dip in the river here or upstream where access is better (ever notice how access to the river gets steeper as we get older?).”
What happened next could not have taken more than 30 seconds. A woman on a bike approached. Disturbed from my reverie I began to walk on. She was a black blur passing me. She snapped, “Don’t walk in the middle of the path!”
After the ecstasy, the laundry. Where is Jack Kornfield when you need him?
“What? What did you say?” I yelled at her back in disbelief. I turned to see her husband/partner/friend/someone following behind her. I looked at him bewildered, shocked. I said to him – who very likely had no idea what vibrational cacophony his black-blur, sun-glassed cycling companion bestowed upon me – “Don’t walk in the middle of the path??!! I couldn’t be more on the edge and NOT be in the river!”
I drifted from verbalizing to mentation: in the river, the beloved river, my beloved river. How did that happen? But the animal in me was still yelling: “Get a bell, you idiot.” Truly, I did not use any more profane invective than that.
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For the remainder of my run I composed a letter to the editor. I said things like: Bikes should be required to have bells. Aspen needs to install an electronic gate that will only open if it detects a bell on a bike. And cyclists will have to pass a test to ensure that they know how and when to use it. Cyclists need to remember that at the speeds that they are traveling, just one false move could do serious damage to themselves and others. Cyclists need to remember to share the path. Otherwise, I suggest that they share the road with construction trucks, commercial vehicles, Ford F-150s and a livery of SUVs.
Get a bell.
Heidi C. Horner