Today I did something I've never done before -- I rode my bike someplace that I would normally drive. This is a big deal, because I am an extremely nervous bike rider. I very nearly learned to drive a car before I learned to ride a bike, for starters, so I don't have that deeply ingrained childhood "feel" for being on a bike. Plus, until a few weeks ago, I had never even ridden a bike on the road before. I bought my cheap-ass Target bike when I lived in DC, but only ever rode it on the C&O canal towpath, which is pancake flat gravel, with no cars.
But dating someone who rides his bike constantly has helped me see just how many places I could get to on my bike instead of in the car. So today, I was brave, and I rode to the library. It's only a couple miles away, but the ride involved multiple left turns, crossing two major streets, and riding across a drawbridge. I cheated a little, riding on the sidewalk when I had to go across the scary bridge (that metal grid stuff it's made out of freaks me out even in a car -- there was no way I was riding a bike across it!). But I did it! Go me! And as I was riding, freaked out about impending left turns, hectic intersections, etc, I realized that I was feeling pretty much exactly like I did as a new car driver. Back then, I would sometimes go miles out of my way just to avoid a left turn onto a busy road with no light, and my heart would pound in the same way it did today on my bike. But I learned to drive a car just fine, and now I'm not even (very) afraid of driving in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, or any of the other major cities I've lived in and visited. The fear is, I realized, an unavoidable part of the learning curve, and the important thing is that I did it anyway. (And my only injury was a minor scrape on my finger from when I snagged it on something sharp locking my bike up. Clutz!)
I doubt I'll be commuting to work on my bike anytime soon, but progress is being made . . .
P.S. I have been watching lots of old kids TV shows lately for work. Do yourself a favor and go YouTube Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader on The Electric Company. I promise you won't regret it!