Can a daily biking regimen cause homicide?

Maybe not, but make sure you look both ways

Exercise might “moderate” one’s anger level, according to a research study reported by the Phys Ed column in The New York Times. Hmm…

In the study, scientists monitored the brain activity of 16 young men as they were shown films of the Ku Klux Klan, kids being fired on by soldiers and other disturbing images. The monitoring devices indicated that “the men were growing angry” as they watched. However, those who rode stationary bicycles after watching the images ”ended the session no angrier than they began it.”

Don't argue with an SUV. It's not worth it.

Brilliant stuff, Phys Ed. Now we know there’s a link between exercise, stress relief and anger management. This is like announcing yes, it’s true, a certain combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms produces a clear liquid substance that quenches thirst.

Notice the research team used stationary bicycles. Would the anger of the subjects in the study have plateaued if they’d ridden bikes on city streets after watching anger-inducing images? My own study, involving personal experience and anecdotes from friends (yes, very scientific) indicates that an hour or two on the narrow streets of Philly’s grid is more likely to fill your head with Buckethead riffs and Road Warrior scenarios than keep your anger in check.

Not that you’re likely to use your bike to chase down and harm rogue drivers who breeze through stop signs, curse and spit at riders, make sudden turns without using signals and honk their horns when they’re directly behind you and speeding to beat a red light. You might picture these drivers in fireballs or crawling through wreckage or hurtling through windshields after high-speed crashes, but you wouldn’t want to play a part in making such horrors happen, perish the thought.

Besides, in that no man’s land between parked cars and moving traffic, who’s more likely to end up as roadkill, the bike rider or the oinker in the SUV?

I’m hoping, like Rodney King, that we can all get along. That bike riders who blow through red lights and ride against traffic will get their act together. That government will fund new ways to do right — more designated bike lanes, bike racks, bike sharing and so on — by the growing numbers of city residents who choose bikes as America transitions, ready or not, from the era of gas guzzlers to the era of livable cities (hmm, that’ll be the day).

Meanwhile, the streets would be a lot worse if it wasn’t for the stubborn advocates at Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, who are sponsoring Bike Philly 2010, a car-free ride on Philly streets, Sept. 12. BCGP works hard to foster peace between irritable cyclists (speaking only for myself, of course) and the spoiled hogs who poison our air and jam city streets, even though half of them could just as easily bike or use public transportation.

I could go on, but I think it’s time to get back on my stationary bike.

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