As the night time temperatures warm enough that frostbite and hypothermia are no longer a worry, the deserted streets beckon riders already weary of crowded bike paths and streets congested with more construction than Hazzard County (I can’t believe I just made that reference).
As I write this and look at the photos from recent late night excursions, I’m reminded that the streets are a lot quieter these days in my neighborhood, and not just because school’s out. There have been a series of stranger-assaults on women walking alone at night. This is fucked. What is even more fucked, though, is that the police and (especially) the media’s response has been to generate panic, fear and victim blaming, warning women not to go out at night and not to walk alone. I’m not saying that this is nothing to worry about, and being vigilant and aware of your surroundings is always a good idea, but shit can happen anytime, anywhere, and the sad fact is that a women is far more likely to be assaulted in her own home by someone she knows than by a stranger on the street, no matter what the time of day or neighborhood. In fact, it happens so often that it isn’t considered newsworthy enough to report, or shocking enough to sell newspapers.
I’m a creature of the night. It’s both my playground and my solace, and I won’t let creeps and tabloid fear-mongering take that away. Dark, mysterious, unknown, it’s easy to fear the night, easy to buy into stories that fuel the anxiety, but I just want to say how quiet, beautiful, liberating, tranquil, consoling, calming, awe inspiring, energizing, limitless the dark hours, while everyone else is sleeping, can be. And if you don’t believe me, I have a challenge for you: take a late night ride on a weeknight, by yourself or with a friend, and see for yourself how much less action there is than during rush hour and how hospitable the wide open streets really are.