SLOW BIKING TIPS FOR SCAREDY CATS AND OLD PEOPLE
Maybe you’ve thought: "Hey, I should ride a bike in NYC but I am scared to." Maybe you’re newly tempted by the beginning of Citibike Bike Share. Or maybe you’re unsure of the rules and want some tips. I’m here to help.
I’ve been riding for a few years now and I am not a daredevil. I prefer to get where I am going and enjoy the ride. So here’s some tips from an admitted slow biker:
- You are a grown-up. Don’t be a hero. Be careful, go slowly and be a grownup about it.
- You are not special. If you were special, you would be able to ride with no helmet with a baguette in your basket the wrong way down the sidewalk while listening to your iPhone. But you’re not special, so don’t do those things.
- Namaste. Anger makes you a bad biker and there will be much bad behavior from cars, pedestrians and other bikers. So, whenever possible, deep breathe and “namaste.”
1. What kind of stuff do I need?
Get one with gears. Don’t let your hipster pal or your bike expert friend tell you you want a fixed gear bike. You are a grownup and grownups need gears to help them get up and down hills and stuff.
Get one that won’t fall apart. Maybe you can get a cheap, weird old bike somewhere, but get one that you can ride on.
2. What should I wear?
A helmet! And then you have to wear it. And when wearing, you have to put the straps on. A helmet in your basket or a helmet with the straps dangling around are both helmets that are not helmet-ing.
Clothes: wear whatever! I recommend bringing a change of shirt in case you get sweaty. But if you like to accessorize, you’ll love biking.
3. How do I get there?
Pick up a bike map! Really, really do this. They are free and at any bike shop. They update them a lot, so get a new one when it comes out.
Go the safe way! I don’t know what kind of a g-damned superhero is riding their fixed-gear bike sans helmet with headphones on down Flatbush Avenue, but it ain’t me! Follow the bike lanes. Use the bike paths. Go out of your way to have cars know you are there and expect you.
Use Ride the City. Ride the City is an excellent website (the app, not so much). It can tell you a “safest,” “safe” or most direct route to go. Plan your route here and then adjust.
4. In what manner should I be “riding safely?”
Read up on it! Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars is awesome for safe riding tips. It looks like a madman wrote it, so you know it’s the shit. It goes beyond the “follow all traffic rules” advice that you get elsewhere and tells you practical strategies, such as taking the whole lane if you think you are going to get squished.
Biking Pet Peeves and How to Avoid Peeving
- Stop before the crosswalk. We’ve already decided that you are not going to cross before the light changes, so stop before the crosswalk so you don’t piss off pedestrians.
- Ride with the flow of traffic. 1st Avenue goes one way. 2nd Avenue goes another way. It’s not hard to go one block over so as not to be a dick to everyone. You will see plenty of these dicks, so do not be one of them.
- Don’t keep passing me if you are slower than me. Nothing is more annoying than having a really slow biker on a big chunky POS classic crappy bike get in front of me at every intersection just so I have to pass them again a block up. This is not a big bike race.
- Lock your bike up the right way! Look this up. Always always lock your bike up. Read and work it out. Seeing sloppily locked bikes makes ME want to steal them, and I already have a bike. You will learn this lesson the hard way like me: I had my bike stolen from my backyard because it was behind a gate, but otherwise unlocked. Then I used a crappy lock to lock up my wife’s bike temporarily and they came back and stole that.
- Don’t dip in and out like you’re tracing the contours of the parked cars.
- Don’t wear headphones. Your sweet jams are gonna get you fucking killed.
- Ring your bell a lot to let people know you are coming.
- Get lights for front and back if you are going to be out at night. Back lights for cars to see you, front lights for pedestrians to see you coming.
- Be nice, be polite! Don’t yell at old ladies: ”Bike lane! Bike lane!” That’s someone’s grandma, you lout! Be a model biker. Thank people for moving. Ding your bell and say thanks. Spread generosity and love around. Treat your politeness as a deeply sarcastic manifestation of your hatred for all the dummies out there.
What did I miss?