It’s officially spring here in Colorado. The temperatures match our weather expectations and even the occasional snow melts within the day. Bulbs are blooming, windows are open, and weekend hikes become routine again.
Because of the gorgeous weather, once-deserted trails are crowded with walkers, dogs, strollers, joggers, and cyclists. A friend and I walk every week, almost regardless of weather conditions. In wintertime, we have the paths to ourselves and have become quite spoiled. Now, we have to share and it’s an interesting study on personality types when so many people and vehicles cram onto narrow paths.
Generally, I’m very pro-cyclist. I believe we need more and better bike lanes and I admire people who are committed to cycling as often as possible. I’m more of a bike toodler. I’ll go for a picnic via bike, but am not looking for lots of miles or any speed records. However, I have had quite a few encounters as a pedestrian with aggressive cyclists. I was pushed into the bushes and yelled at when I was 8 months pregnant with Bea; I’ve been tailed even though I’m as far to the right as possible; and once Bea was almost run over on her tricycle as we slowly made our way to the park. It certainly isn’t the majority of bikes, but there are enough speeders that my sympathy toward sharing trails has waned.
In the trail world, cyclists yield to pedestrians and everyone yields to horses. I’ve only ever seen this hierarchy played out once, when a bike ranger pulled to the side of a narrow trail to let me pass. Usually I don’t mind – bikes are faster and it’s hard to gain momentum. But, like I said – there are times when I’ve felt in danger.
Sharing the path has me thinking about life and community. There are times when my friend and I are walking and we don’t hear the On your left! warning in time to get out of the way promptly. I know cyclists are just as frustrated with us as we are with them. Does it have to be an us-vs-them situation, though? Everyone is out enjoying nature and the sunshine. Can’t we all just get along?
Easter is almost here, which means my Lenten fast of social media on my phone is coming to an end. In some ways, I’m looking forward to the ease in which these apps help me stay informed with the world and with my community. In other ways, I think I’ll be surprised at how desensitized I’ve become to sharing online space with others. The opinions, the bold statements, and the memes become the part of the path I don’t like sharing. How can I learn to balance the noise? To see the good that comes from an online community and filter out the frustrations?
My dad and I were talking about church the other day and how easy it can be to categorize an us-vs-them attitude. Of course, our church is much more advanced theologically and socially; Our world views have progressed and we are true examples of how Christ has called us to live. In reality, we’re a community of broken, stumbling people, just like every other congregation in the world. How can we share the path? To understand our own strengths but also weaknesses as we love and celebrate the strengths and weaknesses of others?
I’m still grappling with how best to share the path. I still get so frustrated and offended with certain people, but I know I can also learn from them and gain insight into views that aren’t my own. I’m slowly figuring out that sharing the road can be frustrating and feel dangerous at times, but in the end, it’s worth it to have everyone out together, on the journey.
Any tips for sharing the road – both in the cyclist-pedestrian world and in life?