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Try bicycling around Manteca instead of driving
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Editor Manteca Bulletin,
With all of this nonsense about politics based on chain e-mails being thrown around the editorial section these days, I thought I would try to produce something productive and worthwhile for the community.  I am calling on more Mantecans to ride their bicycles.  Let’s face it, there is nowhere in Manteca that you cannot get to via bicycle.

Spend a couple of hours pedaling around town and you can burn off somewhere in the neighborhood of one thousand calories.  In a few short weeks, you might realize that you have gone about 300 miles or so, which is the equivalent to a tank of gas in most cars.

This is not to say that you should just jump on your Huffy and start pedaling right now.  Take a few precautions and learn how to properly ride your bike in town.  First off, get a helmet.  To paraphrase the Samurai guide book The Hagakure, “a helmet may seem heavy and silly looking, but as you are falling toward the sidewalk skull first, it will not seem the least bit so.”  

Next, get off of the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk actually increases your chances of getting hit, as cars pulling in and out of driveways and parking lots are not looking for you on the sidewalk.

Finally, stay on your side of the road.  Bicyclists are supposed to ride with the flow of traffic, and stay to the right of the lane to whatever extent possible.  Before long, you will be keeping up with traffic just like another car.

As for you, drivers, the people on bikes need your cooperation.  We are collectively lessening traffic and lowering the demand for gasoline, but you need to do some things for us.  Give us a little room.  Just because you drive a Yaris, it does not mean that we can fit in the same lane.  Please do not honk if you are behind me; honking forces me to take my eyes off of the road.  I am like any other vehicle, if you want to pass me, wait until you can move into another lane to do so.  This is extra true for all the guys with the lifted F250 trucks.  When I watched “Bigfoot” as a kid, it used to drive over buses, not cyclists.  Give me a break.  

A personal favorite of mine, however, is the people who do not lock up their dogs.  Just because you live south of Woodward or on any other country road, it does not mean that your German Shepherd is allowed to run free and chase me.  This puts both me and the dog in great danger, and is unnecessary.

You would be amazed at all of the new discoveries you can make in this town while on a bicycle.  I have come across several restaurants that I may never have stopped at while in my car.  Now I can eat at them, and feel nearly guilt free, as I will burn off many of the calories of my meal on my ride home.  Although I could use a few more bike lanes in town, there are plenty of trails and paths to ride in Manteca.

People have been lamenting rising energy and health care costs, and I challenge any liberal or conservative to tell me how riding a bicycle can’t be a positive change for both.
James Lee Wright
June 17, 2009