I went to New Mexico to visit family a few weeks back. When I visit family I generally end up getting on an airplane and this makes me feel guilty because I do believe in climate change (clap your hands if you believe) and flying around to make visits is part of the general level of pollution.
I know know know I could bicycle to New Mexico. Or Massachusetts. In fact I would really like to do either of these rides. Unfortunately I'd have to first quit my job and second strap my nine year old to the hood of my bicycle after mile ten followed by strapping my 14 year old to the rear fender of my bicycle after mile twenty or so and that really slows me down and the paternal unit in Massachusetts and the two in-law units in New Mexico are not getting any younger.
So at the moment I am in Massachusetts doing a lot of swimming and before this I was in New Mexico and this short story made inexplicably longer, by me, is about New Mexico.
First I saw exactly one bicycle in the four days I was there. Second I spent more time than before with my very intelligent brother-in-law who happens to be a neurosurgeon and I finally got to ask him all of my questions about brain surgery which was great although I still think that if someone has a tumor it would be worthwhile to look into a cerebro-spino fluid replacement because the cancerous cells are there and if we could swap that fluid out with healthy fluid that would be good right? Apparently this is totally out of left field and no, it is definitely not correct but whatever.
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law do not bicycle, a subject I skirt very carefully. They scuba dive, and they ride horses, but ixnay on the icycle-bay. We were talking about vacations and in the manner of making pleasant lightweight talk I mentioned that I would love to see Costa Rica and maybe ride one of the famous Costa Rican zip lines through the jungle.
My brother-in-law said "oh, absolutely not." I was surprised. I asked why. He said patiently that he was a neurosurgeon, and he worked trauma, and he saw a lot of people badly messed up by vacation adventures along the lines of zip-lining through jungles.
I took a breath and I said "so, do you see, uhh, a lot of bicyclists? In the ER?"
He didn't hesitate. "Oh yes. I see a lot of bicyclists."
I asked carefully, "The bicyclists, did they get hurt because they were umm, running red lights? Behaving dangerously?"
He looked totally surprised as if he had thought I was smarter than this. He said "What? No, never. They're just going along and some car hits them. Often the driver of the car is drunk." He looked pensive as if he was searching backwards in time to give a totally complete answer. "Once there was an occasion where they said the bicyclist had fallen inexplicably, turned into the path of the passing car so maybe on that one occasion it was the bicyclist but hard to know for sure."
Me: "Did the bicyclist make it?"
Him: "What? Oh no. He didn't."
So there it is. As every bicyclist I have ever met suspects, it is not the way we ride that gets us killed. It is the way the drivers drive, that gets the bicyclist killed.
I still hope to ride a zip-line in Costa Rica one day. But I'd like to bike down there, not fly.