Different is Not Bad

In the last week I've had more upsetting encounters on my bike than I've had in all the years I've been riding. Last week a man boldly yelled out his window, "BAD MOM!" And a few days later and man screamed, "I can't believe you are doing this with kids. Do you know how dangerous that is. Are you f*cking stupid?" He was outraged, red in the face and almost hyperventilating. I rode away so angry I could cry. Today I smiled at a man who was staring me down, because I assumed he was just curious and surely he didn't realize the mean the look on his face, but I was wrong because as I got closer he shook his head, and wagged his finger with so much hate and anger that it made my stomach sick and my eyes well up with tears. These people don't know the first thing about me. They don't know that I am actually a good mom who thinks so deeply about every. single. choice she makes, and who also gives them the benefit of the doubt, and wishes them well, even after they swear at me in front of my children. I didn't take any of these encounters personal, but what upsets me to no end is the backwards thinking in our society, and failing to notice that riding a bike with or without children is not dangerous. Bikes can fall over or ride into hard objects, or people, but most likely they are never going fast enough that anyone could get seriously injured or die. Cars ARE actually dangerous. I avoid busy roads at all cost, riding only in bike lines and quiet side streets and I am the least confrontational, most low key rider you will probably ever meet. I'm like Julie freaking Andrews on a bicycle.  But I just can't help but wonder how riding a bike is unreasonable with children when going 70 miles an hour on a freeway with hundreds of other cars going the same speed, (with kids in the back seat) is not. If riding a bike is not dangerous in and of it's self then why am I shamed in doing so. Why can't our society see that the answer should not be to discourage people from walking in crosswalks or riding bikes for fear of all the things cars could do to them, but instead do their part to make the road and world a safer place. Those people who yelled awful things at me and thought I was a bad and unsafe mother were the same people who sped past me, at a dangerous speed and put my kids lives at risk. They shamed me for my life choices, but what about their choices just moments before? I'm sad and mad and forgiving all in the same moment and holding on tight to the deep rewards and joy that comes from riding slowly and happily through my city streets. I am not a bad mom, just a mom who might make choices that make some people uncomfortable, just like all of us, depending on the time or day or scene.  Love all the mamas, and love all the people. The worlds needs different people, places and perspectives.