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All I Want For Christmas…

bicycle riding in the Redland

I see them all the time. Riding their bikes they look like any other boys across America two-wheeling around town. Except they’re not riding for fun. Some are barely past the boy stage. Others left it a long time ago.

I’m referring to the farm workers I see all around the Redland riding their bikes to and from work. The other night as I drove west on 200th street I passed two of them, one after the other. It was pitch black and they seemed to come out of nowhere. Of course, they had been there but I just didn’t see them until they came into the realm of my headlights.

I was struck by the notion that anyone who might have had too much to drink could have killed one of them. Or both. The thought still pops into my head when I see another on this mode of transportation.

As dangerous as it may be to ride a bike at night on the dark, agricultural streets of the Redland, they’re thankful to have a way to get to work. Some aren’t so lucky and have to walk. I saw two ladies and a child walking in the rain one evening and backtracked to pick them up. Part of me wanted to help them and another part was troubled that they had taken a ride from a stranger. We hear so many bad things.

I had my mother and daughter in the car with me and even so, they thought twice before getting in the car with us. I rejoiced at that secretly. They had been waiting for their ride when it started raining. The ride was late and they headed to Krome on foot. It was at least a mile and a half away.

Just today Dad brought a migrant worker to the house to pick out a bicycle for himself. He had given him a ride in the past and knows that this man walks about 3 miles each way, each day. We have some unwanted bikes and knew it would make a difference to him to be able to cycle to work and not have to walk. I fixed him a sandwich while they looked at the bikes.

It turns out he had a bike in the past but it had been taken from him. Stolen would be my guess, although he didn’t call it that. As I looked at the grown man pedal away on a bike that had belonged to my then-twelve-year-old nephew I hurt for him and those like him.

Working for pay that I’m sure is less than most Americans will work for. And back-breaking work at that. Some like to whoop it up on the weekends and head down to Homestead for a little beer and a little dancing. After working hard all week, I can’t say I really blame them. Some have no way to get there and have their beers closer to home. Others don’t drink and just keep to themselves.

I’d love to get bicycles for all of them. And give them jackets with reflective decals to keep them safe. And while I’m wishing, I’d like dedicated bike lanes too. I can dream, can’t I?

  1. matt

    i live on 147th and ive seen those 2 guys on the bikes ive almost hit them a few times, it’s so dark on 200st you dont see them till your right up on them

  2. Maggie

    Matt, I’m thinking of starting some sort of drive to get reflective tape to all of them. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. And it’s such inexpensive prevention. Happy Thanksgiving!

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