Bicycles are a fine mode of transportation, excellent exercise, and an absorbing hobby. As such trends go, the current fashion for bicycling among the children of the rich is laudable. I greet you from my own bike as we pedal along! Ting ting!
However, I do have some nuggets of truth to share with you, in bullet point format:
- Use a real bicycle. The fete champêtre use of imitation 30-year-old bicycles is painfully precious. Good bicycles with more than three gears are available cheaply on the used market. The esthetic distinction between “retro” and “broke down rusty-ass old” eludes the Mexican gentleman pedaling to work on his 15-year-old Huffy. Conspicious consumption is for tools.
- Use a helmet. If you manage to survive a severe head injury, you’ll wish you hadn’t.
- Stop at stop signs. It’s totally uncool to do so. You lose your momentum, it feels way less Easy Rider, and you feel like your mom. However, when you blow through an intersection at full tilt out of my left blind spot as I’m pulling forward, I’ll hit you with my car, changing our lives forever for the worse.
- Use lights. This is, again, uncool. Big dorky flashing lights on your messenger bag, headline in front, light in rear: christ, it’s like wearing black socks with shorts! Except that you get killed otherwise. Just do it.
- If you are unwilling to follow rules 2, 3, and 4 above, stop already with the activism. Yes, cars hit bicyclists. It’s awful. Drivers should pay more attention, and better bike lanes and education are necessary. But if you’re gonna head out on Saturday night with no helmet, no lights, and no sense of traffic safety, your Paul Frank Tinkerbell Spanglebutt Special Cruisy Cruiser is gonna get wrapped around a Camry.