Advice to Cyclists

Today at jwz, a long list of advice for folks new to bicycling in San Francisco. A sampling:

10. Bike maintenance: don’t do it, ever. It’s not worth your time. Just take it to the shop. Getting them to replace a flat for you costs $20 and takes 10 minutes, including the tube, and you don’t get dirty.

11. Safety: I follow the Zodiac approach: always assume the cars can see you perfectly, and are trying to kill you. If an intersection seems iffy, use the sidewalk and crosswalks. If big streets like Market and Van Ness freak you out, there are always less traficky ways to go, or just stay on the sidewalks.

12. Grocery shopping: yes, you really can do it with a single backpack. The trick is, shop small once a week instead of big once a month.

Great stuff in the comments too. Link.

Link to more cycling-related posts on Mission Mission.

8 Responses to “Advice to Cyclists”

  1. “just stay on the sidewalks”

    How ’bout no.

  2. Schaefer says:

    Replacing your own tire doesn’t get you dirty. Unless, I guess, you’re a lazy, sidewalk-riding slob.

  3. da real mission says:

    “sidewalk”!? Seriously? So like, besides being totally illegal, riding on the sidewalk puts pedestrians at risk. So in order to mitigate their own risks, bikers should put pedestrians at risk instead?

    this is why whenever I see a biker riding on the sidewalk, i talk my walking stick and stick in their rims. I love watching them fly off the bikes and skid face first on the sideWALK.

  4. B Striddy says:

    JWZ is wrong on so many counts here, it’s not funny and definitely not worth refuting point-by-point. UGH, what a miserable attitude he’s got, too.

    If you want some sound advice, check the bike coalition’s resources page:

    Then also check out Bike Commute Tips:
    and Commute by Bike:

    Even if you’re not riding as a commuter, but want some good urban riding advice and a place to ask questions, they’re great sites.

  5. B Striddy says:

    Also, fixing a flat shouldn’t cost you more than $10 at any shop in town, including the a new tube.

  6. Chester says:

    I can’t tell if you’re excerpting his advice because you think it’s good advice, or because you think it’s really ricockulous advice and are making fun of it. I hope there’s an element of the latter, because a lot of it is really dopey. I like how he’s trying to encourage those who are total novices and who are easily intimidated, but I think this should raise the bar for the quality of advice, not lower it. To wit:

    1. Yeah, don’t take the advice of the lycra’d/skinny-jeaned crowd as gospel. Take it with a grain of salt, but take it. You’re smart enough to know what is reasonable for you and what isn’t. So, often times, are they.

    2. Get a hybrid if you’re more comfortable riding it, but you’ll be fine on “skinny” 700cc tires too…if you don’t *try* to run *into* potholes. Still, maybe a hybrid will work out better. Just keep in mind that many “city bike” hybrids have geometry with “foot-forward” geometries that work well for flat cruising, but which make climbing hills really awkward.

    4. If you have to climb a lot of stairs with your bike, get a lighter bike. Get stronger, too, if you like, but at the end of a long day, your bike commute shouldn’t culminate in a weightlifting workout. Even one flight of stairs with an overly-heavy bike is a needless pain in the ass.

    6. Get a U-Lock *and* a cable lock. Use the U-Lock for one wheel and the frame and the cable lock for the other wheel. Get a mini cable lock for the seat, too, if you lock up in areas where the resale value of a used bike seat is sufficient incentive for theft.

    7. If you carry a U-Lock and a cable lock, you don’t need to ditch your quick-release skewers.

    8. You really should be filling up your tires on a weekly-ish basis regardless of what kind you have.

    9. You can get a little adapter that allows you to convert a Schraeder (“gas-station-style”) to Presta. For, like, two bucks.

    10. I’m as mechanically inept as they come. Can’t do very basic shit. But I can change a flat tube. Everyone can learn this and everyone should — flats don’t only happen in places within easy walking distance of a bike shop (or during business hours).

    11. Yes: be paranoid. Assume they don’t see you. And I personally don’t mind bikes in the sidewalk, but as a point of courtesy and safety, only when they’re riding at walking speed and, furthermore, can hold a straight line at that speed.

    15. Or you can just put a chainguard on your bike and wear your pants however you damn well please.

    I think he has a point in cycling novices needing advice tailored to them. Hard-core elitists will often overestimate the general populations abilities.

    But this guy grossly *under*estimates them.

  7. Robert says:

    Seriously, a lot of this advice is pretty atrocious.

    Plenty of people have deconstructed his points, so I’ll just say this: riding slow bikes with underinflated tires on the sidewalk may work for this guy, but it sucks. Bikes that are made to go a reasonable speed are just so much more efficient that it makes getting places easier, and a lot more FUN.

  8. Allan says:

    chester, we just thought mission mission readers would have some interesting thoughts on this, and we were right

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