Wednesday, August 3, 2011

National Night Out, in retrospect

Last night I attended, and briefly spoke at, the N.N.O. event in a neighborhood across town.

The event was very impressive, and I told 'em so. A good neighborhood is made up of good neighbors. I'm guessing there were 60 to 70 people in attendance. They arrived walking, in cars and on bikes - even one kid on a skateboard. They ranged from infants to probably 80+ years old. The "potluck" was ample and tasty. I followed a protein-loving teenager through the line, who got pizza and chicken. (He might've been the kid who arrived by skateboard.)

They started out with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem. Sweet. (I'd be comfortable in such a neighborhood.)

Despite the high-temp of 97 degrees, my granddaughter, Princess Mackie, attended with me. She wanted to go, because we planned on hitting some playgrounds afterwards, as we took the "scenic route" home. She's a fussy eater, but ate a plate of food.

Dottie - the gal who invited me and was "hostessing" the gathering, is a spark-plug! During our phone conversations, she told me of her personal love for bicycling. Her daughter is also an enthusiastic transportation cyclist, although she's currently stoved up following an intersection near-collision crash. (Which also partly explains their interest in bicycle safety.)

My presentation was quite brief, actually.

When I asked the audience if they harbored some resentment towards cyclists because of near-misses they'd had, or their observation of cyclists flagrantly violating the law or being bad roadway citizens, I saw a lot of folks nodding in agreement.

I covered my philosophy of being a safe cyclist:
- Be Legal!
- Be Visible!
- Be Predictable!
- Be Defensive!

... along with explanations and examples of each.

Predictably, there was much interest in Idaho's famous "bicycle stop law." We discussed it at some length.

Folks seemed impressed that I've ridden 4000 bicycle miles this year. (A milestone reached earlier the same day, coincidentally.) They also were impressed that Mackie and I are bicycling to all the playgrounds across the city.

I told 'em that if there is ONE THING I would ask of motorists, it's to give the appropriate amount of attention to driving. Piloting a 3500-pound lethal missile around is a big responsibility. If your inattentiveness can end up killing somebody... it deserves a lot of attention.

Fortunately, I was just wrapping it up when the fire truck came roaring down the street, horn blaring... because the audience attention was gone. (Dottie invited the fire and police departments, as well.)

I sincerely hope that I was a good Ambassador for Bicycle Nation, and perhaps they went home feeling a little better about sharing the road with cyclists. Or... maybe even bicycling themselves! If nothing else, I'm a living testament to the fact that you don't have to be Lance Armstrong - or even particularly athletic - to be successful at getting around on a bike.

On the way home, we visited playgrounds at Cole Valley Christian School, Valley View School, Mountain View School, and Mountain View Park. (Bringing our count for the summer to 64!)

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