I have been three days riding my bike (bicycle) now, and I still am not fully accustomed to it. A car was a reasonably easy adjustment, because the driver seat is on the opposite side of the car, making it significantly easier just to flip everything for the road. I also have spent hours upon hours driving in the US, and only a handful of days doing it in Japan. Bicycling, however, is a rather different story.
I spent a good number of days riding my bike part of the way to work at my last US job, and I used my bicycle for a good amount of my getting around town (combined with the local busses). But that in no way adds up to how much I have driven in Houston. In fact, I think it is quite likely that I actually spent more time riding my bike on the roads in Japan than I ever have in Houston. I think I’ve spent more calendar days using a bicycle on the roads in the US – I’m saying “on the roads”, because I know I have spent more time and more calendar days using a bicycle in the US than in any other country, but not necessarily as an alternative to a car as a means of transportation – than in Japan, but the days I spend riding in Japan included a LOT of road time every time I went to and from work.
All that said, despite however terribly it may have been said, I have spent a lot of time riding my bicycle on the left side of the road, following traffic in Japan this past year. This means that I kind of have a really strong habit of getting to the left side of the road whenever I ride. I have consciously pushed to the right these past few days, but it has been tough. Especially when there are no moving cars around, I really struggle. I find myself already going to the left side, before it clicks that that’s the wrong side here. (Hey, I’m glad it does click, though, and fast!)
As I approached a road with a huge median in it yesterday morning, and there were no visible moving cars on the nearer side of it, I suddenly discovered how much my instincts have been “messed with”, so to speak. I truly had no idea which way to check for traffic, as I approached the road (I was on a path perpendicular to the road.). Even though it seemed like no cars were around, I went ahead and stopped at the edge, because I wanted to figure this out. After a handful of seconds, during which I get quite silly and out of place, a car came along on the far side of the road, the opposite side of the median from me. It was coming from the right. Unfortunately, that didn’t have anything click for me – there was no Aha! moment for me, and I was disappointed. However, I am smart, and so I immediately deduced that cars must come from the left on the side by me, if they’re coming from the right on the far side of the road. I was just a bit bummed that I was having to deduce, instead of just suddenly remembering and knowing.
On a handful of other occasions, – possibly two or three handfuls, actually – I have found myself heading to the left side of the bike trail or the road, but it is always under the same circumstances: I am alone, and I am turning. So, if I keep that in mind, and just focus whenever I’m about to turn, I’ll be in good shape in no time. (As if I haven’t been thinking this all week already…)
Anyway, just thought I’d share all of that, because it’s kind of fun (to me, anyway).