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Jul. 26 2013

Awareness

By Mark Malinowski | Posted in Host Blogs | 9 Comments

In an earlier missive, I mentioned how riding a bike gives one a new perspective on one’s surroundings.   Well, I’ve been commuting to work here at WBJC from my home in Catonsville for a few weeks now, and I have to say that my perspective on several things has changed since I started.

For one thing, it’s amazing how different the city is at 3:30 am than at 11 am.  Truly 2 different worlds.  More and more, I think I prefer the 3:30 am world.

Another thing that has changed is that I feel that because of my cycling, I have become a better driver.  This is why I think so:

When riding a bike, you have to pay very close attention to everything around you.  A bump or small hole in the road you wouldn’t notice in your car can create major problems on a bike.  Also, when riding in traffic, there are no “fenderbenders” on a bike (my bike doesn’t have fenders).   Just about any physical encounter with a motor vehicle will result in something extraordinarily bad.  While the majority of the motorists I have encountered have been courteous, careful, and respectful of the bike, there are a few who are either not paying attention,  don’t care, or are openly hostile (yes, they’re out there).  A little paranoia might save your life.  Most bike mirrors are convex, to give a wider view, but that also distorts the appearance of distance.  Cars go fast.

Then, there are those pesky pedestrians.  I often wonder why someone chooses to walk in the street when there is a perfectly good sidewalk available.  Yet, some do.  On more than one occasion I have been forced to brake hard to avoid hitting a pedestrian who stepped right in front of me. I know I’m not as big as a car, but I’m a big guy–hard to miss.  As Kati will tell you, an encounter with a pedestrian can have catastrophic results, and usually worse for the cyclist.  Gotta watch out for pedestrians.  I’m always ringing the bell when I see one.

Now, when I drive, I find that I pay much closer attention.  I have always been a careful driver (I know–everyone says that.  But in my case it’s true.), but after spending quite a bit of time on two wheels, I feel that my sense of awareness, even when using four, has been heightened.  Riding a bike has made me a better driver.  Maybe more people should try it out–we might have fewer accidents.

Mark Malinowski

About

Mark is WBJC's morning host. His full bio can be read here.

9 Responses to Awareness

  • Len Adler says:

    Mark: I enjoy listening in the morning. Do you select what you play? I prefer familiar melodies, and like when you comment on the history of selections. I’ve been listening to WBJC at times since 1956, when I went to City College, and discovered the station on the fourth floor of the building- part of Baltimore Junior College.

    • Mark Malinowski
      Mark Malinowski says:

      Len,

      I thought I might have already responded to your missive, but I think something went awry. In answer to your question, yes we (the announcers) do program our own music, which is something we all appreciated and not a lot of classical stations (those that are still around) do. It gives each of us a chance to express him or herself musically, as well as verbally. I’m glad you enjoy the station and my morning program. I would say the station has come a long way since the Baltimore Junior College (BJC) days!

      Mark

  • Kati Harrison
    Kati Harrison says:

    Yeah my fender-bender was a broken clavicle or “clavichord,” as you called it Mark.:D To this day I don’t know why the pedestrians, who walked right out in front of me, stopped for the cars that had come before me but not for my bike! I had to brake suddenly and went sailing over the handle bars. I have also had a few people unknowingly open their car doors on me. Usually they have been on their cell phones. Defensive biking takes on a whole new meaning when you consider all the obstacles to cycling in a city. Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t more mentally than physically challenging.

    Mark, you make a really good point about becoming a better more careful driver from the experience of cycling. It makes you realize just how powerful you are in a car and how vulnerable you are on a bike. When I’m in bike riding mode, I tend to be more patient and drive my car more slowly, which are good things!

  • Sarah says:

    Have you heard of Baltimore Bike Party? It’s a monthly event that is community-based and allows people to have fun on their bikes! Check it, come to the next one, and promote great classical music while you’re there :)

    http://baltimorebikeparty.com/

    • Mark Malinowski
      Mark Malinowski says:

      Yes, Kati has told me about it. apparently, she rode in the last one. If my schedule permits (I work a part time job), I’d like to give it a shot!

      • John Fay says:

        Mark, are there any bike paths on your route? I’m sure you and Kati would use them if you could. I live down in Silver Spring where we have them sporadically.

        • Mark Malinowski says:

          John,

          There are a few bike lanes here, mostly in the city, thanks to former mayor Sheila Dixon, an avid cyclist. On my route to and from work, there aren’t any. Traffic isn’t a problem at 3:30 am, but going home can get a bit complicated. Most of the drivers are OK, though. There are a few, however…

          Mark

  • Paul Heffron says:

    Mark

    Have you ever ridden or considered riding a motorcycle? I’ve been a biker for over thirty years and currently ride a 2006 Kawasaki 750 Vulcan. Like you, I feel I’m a much better driver of a car from the motorcycle experience. Actually, I consider driving or riding (motorcycle or bicycle)to be a fine art and analyze my riding as I go along the same way I do when I’m playing a Grieg piano piece.

    Paul

  • Mark Malinowski says:

    Paul,

    Not a motorcycle guy. I rode ‘em a bit in my youth, but not very comfortable with them now. I like them from an aesthetic point of view–some of them are beautiful. I feel much safer on a bike, and I get much better gas mileage! Take care!

    Mark

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