I spent 20 years hoping that I was setting a good example for my children by being a bike commuter.
Be careful what you wish for.
My daughter has a job and takes classes at several locations, so my wife and I have made sure she has a reliable, fuel-efficient car. But she routinely leaves it in the driveway and pedals one of her three bikes to work and school. I think that's awesome. Like me, she likes exercise and hates putting gas in a vehicle.
But being the father of a young woman can really test a guy’s commitment to bike commuting. A strange mix of pride and fear flow through me when she talks about riding home at night because, while I love having a kid who would rather turn bike pedals than mash a gas pedal, I know women face extra and unfair dangers. And that pisses me off.
It’s sick and wrong that half the human population has to worry about being preyed upon by the other half. It’s sick and wrong that families have to worry about their daughters, wives and girlfriends. And if I described what I’d like to do to every depraved scumbag who would assault a woman, my ideas might sound sick and wrong to some people, too.
I want my daughter to live a life free of unreasonable fear. I don’t want to be a “helicopter" parent who smothers his kid by being overprotective. So I’m trying to find ways to make it all work.
With darkness falling earlier every day, I’m rearranging my plans when I can, to ensure that I can meet her after class. We get to share the ride home together, and I can rest a little easier knowing she’s not alone.
But it’s a shame that I have to do it out of fear, instead of just out of love.