“You’re 8 months pregnant! Can you please stop riding your bike?” my concerned co-worker pleaded with me on a recent Friday. As we headed to lunch in her car, she’d spotted my bike glinting in the sunlight, conspicuously tethered to a signpost in front of our office. “Actually,” I corrected her, thinking back to my idyllic ride into work that morning, propelled in part by the most beautiful weather of the year, “more like 9.”
Emilie Bahr, urban planner, author, and very-soon-mom-to-be, recently wrote this great article on biking while pregnant for the good folks over at bikeshophub.com. In the piece, Bahr explains why she chooses to continue biking while pregnant, much to the chagrin of a few concerned family members and in spite of the raised eyebrows of passerby.
Bahr, based out of New Orleans, highlights two misconceptions many North Americans hold. One: that pregnant women are made of glass and, two: that biking is necessarily more dangerous than other forms of travel.
“I recognize clear risks associated with biking in a place that remains primarily oriented around the automobile,” she writes. “At the same time, I also think its important to acknowledge that driving is one of the most dangerous activities most of us do on a daily basis, the risks of which we’ve mostly been willing to absorb.”
Bahr draws attention to cities such as Copenhagen, where biking is a much more common and low-risk endeavour, and one frequently sees parents cycling around with young, helmet-less children or pregnant women biking themselves to work.
The sight of a pregnant woman cycling remains shocking to most North Americans. However, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who suggested that pregnant woman shouldn’t walk down the sidewalk or drive a car. Our collective concern about cycling while carrying a child isn’t rooted in natural law, only in a tendency to view the automobile as the principal safest form of travel, while failing to build the sort of society that allowed pregnant women (or anyone) to travel safely in any mode.
Bahr’s piece is simultaneously an ode to the joys of cycling and a call to action for people of all walks of life to take the streets in the push for safer, people-friendly cities.
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