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To the victims of cyclophobia at Notre Dame

| Thursday, February 20, 2020

I don’t think there is anywhere in the world where you will be walking on the sidewalk and a bike will zoom past you without ringing its bell. I mean – really, are you bikers aware of the danger you pose?

I’ve reached out to many “walkers” around campus, who have told me the irreparable harm that these bikers have caused them simply because they don’t ring their bells. A walker – who has preferred to remain anonymous and will be called “B” – has stated that bikes have seriously “impacted my ability to traverse through the pathways around campus.” Another walker named Stephen stated, “I’ve developed serious cyclophobia, and whenever I walk through campus, I find myself constantly looking behind both shoulders since I am never alerted by these demons on two wheels.” 

Here it is, Notre Dame. This is what the spirit of “I don’t want to burden you” has caused. These are only a handful of individuals I’ve spoken to and I am sure that there many more of you out there. 

The other day, Fr. Jenkins appeared to me in a dream and said, “Matías, I want you to raise awareness on cyclophobia. We have to be more aware of the danger that bikes and their silence pose to our community.” Since that day, I’ve received my calling. So I set out and decided I needed to get the opinion of a biker. 

One day, as I was walking on the dangerous path towards Main Circle, a biker zoomed past me hitting 40 mph, at least that’s what it felt like. I yelled at him, “Hey punk!” 

He stopped in his tracks and looked back, “Hi!” 

“I have a quick question for you. Why didn’t you ring your bell to alert me that you were coming from behind?”

His response: “Well, I’m not going to ring my bell because I don’t want to impose my desire to alert you. That would just be too much.” I guess that’s it. He sums it up clearly – it’s best not to use bells because he was afraid of imposing his bell usage on people. 

Maybe if I had had a sign on my back that said, “I, Matías, consent to hearing a bell being rung on the condition that a bike is coming from behind”, then maybe bikers would ring their bell. 

I implore you bikers, please be “inconvenient” for just one second and let the person ahead of you know that you are about to zoom past them. Maybe we need more New Yorkers or Bostoners here to teach you a lesson? 

Ex: “Hey Tony, you’re in the path. I’m biking here!” coupled with the proper response: “Hey Pete, shut up! But, fine, you’re right. I’ll get out of the way.” Pete responds, “Thanks! Say hi to your family for me!” Tony: “Yea yea fahgeddaboutit.”

It’s that simple. I bet even Lance Armstrong would ring his bell when he was passing others.

For this reason, and for the grave trauma that the lack of bikers ringing their bells has caused on campus, there will be a meeting in front of Main Building on February 25, 2020 @ 3 p.m. to bring awareness to cyclophobia and to protest the absence of bell usage on campus. All are welcome to participate. 

It is now more than ever necessary to establish peace and cooperation between people and vehicles. 

Matías Daniel Sur
M.A. Italian Studies
Feb. 10

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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