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Rules for Bicycling

Since 2008, Andrew and I have bicycled to and from work about 80% of the time. It’s about 23 minutes each way (depending on which lights we miss), which is a great, disconnected transition period between work and life. The marginal increase in physical activity has also been good for my waist line (and really good for my ability to rationalise skipping the gym on any given day).

I’ve really enjoyed watching the number of bicycling commuters increase year after year. Following the uptake of the Boris Bikes has been great, too. Even though our route to work doesn’t include a single bike lane, there are now so many bikes that we form a substantial enough peloton to keep the attention of most drivers. We’re also helped by the fact that the route has relatively few lorries.

Anyhow, while I love cycling to work, I am frequently chagrined that so many bicyclists are idiots and/or jerks. So here are my rules for bicyclists:

  1. If you’re on wheels, you have to follow car rules. If you’re on foot, you can be a pedestrian. Here’s the deal, kids: bicycles move faster than pedestrians. And probably have more mass. I hope you all remember your physics: F=M*A. If for no other reason, that’s a good reason to follow the rules of the road when you’re on wheels. If you want to ignore a red light: do so as a pedestrian. Get off your damn bike and walk it across the intersection. Think of it as urban portaging.
  2. Always wear a helmet. If you break your arm, you’ll survive. If you lose your arm, you’ll get through life. Your brain doesn’t work that way. It’s the sine qua non of living. You can treat the messed up hair as a badge of honour for having cycled.
  3. Don’t wear headphones. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you, or you will inevitably (and possibly inadvertently) do many idiotic and/or jerky things. Instead, hum or even sing to yourself. It’s infinitely more fun, and singing builds community.
  4. Under no conceivable circumstances is it okay to stop in a pedestrian crossing. None. Where do you think the pedestrians will go? It’s like if they stood in the bike lane when it wasn’t their turn to cross the road. And yes, that’s me verbally abusing you from outside the crosswalk.
  5. Be happy with the speed you cycle. If you’re getting passed by everyone as you proceed from one intersection to another, don’t continue jumping to the front of the group at each traffic signal. We’re all just going to pass you again, and that’s not safe for anyone.
  6. If you can’t cycle in a straight line, you shouldn’t be on a fixie. Seriously.
  7. Don’t use your mobile phone while cycling. Yes, that includes texting.  And if you do need to pull over to make a call or send an email or whatever it is that you think needs to be done immediately, get your bike out of the road. I saw a woman today stopped in the bus lane on Euston Road talking on her mobile. Idiot.
That’s all I can think of right now. Violation of any of of the above rules should be a paintballable offence, a category of crime I’ll outline sometime soon (link).

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