Thursday, June 14, 2007
Notes to Self for Urban Cyclists
1) Do not pick fights with people driving cars. No matter how right one feels, no matter how cro-magnon, ego-driven and violent people usually get when driving, if you go into battle with a car, you will lose. *Tons* of steel will always mash 23 lbs. of it.
2) Do not run red lights when there are a lot of cars around. If there's almost nobody around and it won't impede anyone anyway, I run stop signs and red lights, which I think is fair. (Cars don't understand what a loss of momentum means, because they just depress the gas pedal and blunder on down the street. But for bikers, it means breaking, losing your rhythm, starting up again, sometimes in a hard gear because you were really cooking up to the intersection [possibly bad behavior], ergo it's a right royal pain) Point is, violating traffic laws rather noticeably fuels their petty hatred, and is therefore best avoided.
3) Do not ride around in the city on a fixed gear with track bars and no brakes unless you are an experienced cyclist, e basta!
4) Wear a helmet. Yes, most helmets look stupid, and that's why I suggest bmx or skate helmets reminiscent of pre-'33 German motorcycle helmets. I think Pro-Tec makes a fine helmet.
5) Do not ride on roads heavily trafficked by automobiles. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but most of the time there is another perfectly open street just one or two blocks over. This is safer for the biker and limits interaction with autos.
6) Use the bike lanes properly. The more that people use them appropriately, the more leverage we have to get more lanes and take the roads away from car drivers. Hopefully we'll start seeing whole city streets dedicated to cyclists.
7) Don't egg on car drivers by riding in the middle of the road. We all need to be reasonable and ride as far over to the side as is safe for us bikers.