There is nothing I enjoy more this time of year than being on my road bike. Wisconsin summer weather plus idyllic rural farm scenery make an ideal combination that is best experienced on two wheels.
It takes me about thirty minutes by bike to get out of town on my way to the countryside. Along the way I experience a repeated challenge in the form of radar speed feedback signs, where I get to do something that I would certainly never do while driving my car. I speed up and race against the radar to see how high a speed I can register. To date, I am excited to say I have hit 29 mph on a few occasions. There may or may not have been a downhill involved.
The research on radar speed feedback signs shows that they are quite effective in slowing drivers down. (I do not know of any research yet that shows they are also effective in speeding cyclists up). What I love most about these signs is that they simply provide immediate feedback to drivers. If your speed is at a potentially dangerous level, the device will let you know, often with flashing lights. No tickets are given. There is no one there to pull you over if you are going too fast. It’s on the honor system for each driver to choose their response to the feedback they receive.
As a writer of a weekly wellness column, this started me thinking about other signs in my life that gives me feedback that I am moving too fast. What kind of flashing lights do I see that show me that the current choices I am making are putting me at risk? Several things come to mind. Those who know me best and whom I trust will give me feedback when I seem “off” or out of sorts. A sure tell-tale sign for me that I am out of balance emotionally, physically, relationally, and/or spiritually is that I become irritable and inflexible. When my mind is racing with worry, it is a sure sign I need to get back to my mindfulness and centering prayer practice. Other warnings include blaming others for stresses in my life and finding it difficult to sleep.
No tickets are given, and no one pulls me over when I get these warning signs regarding my current state of balance and wellness. It’s on the honor system for me to decide how I will respond to the feedback I receive.
What signs do you get when your life is either moving too fast or is out of balance? How do you seek and receive honest feedback about your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual wellness?
The research is conclusive that speed feedback signs do result in people slowing down and adjusting their driving behaviors. My own experience shows me that the same is true when I seek and respond to feedback regarding my well-being, feedback that is always there if I am willing to listen.
So next time we drive or bike past a radar feedback sign, perhaps we can use it as not only a reminder of our speed of travel but also as a reminder to pay attention to the speed of our pace of life. Maybe it will help make us aware of the other possible indicators in our lives that are letting us know how fast we are living, and whether or not our current behaviors might be putting ourselves, or others, at risk.
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