City Desk

Gear Prudence: Should I Really Be Wearing All This Lycra?

gearprudence

Gear Prudence: What do you do when approaching a four-way stop with multiple drivers on the other streets who don’t know how to yield the right of way or make a decision? Do you race through? Do you direct traffic? Do you stare and make funny faces?—So Tired Of People Pausing Extraneously, Dammit

Dear STOPPED: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rule at four-way stops is “first to stop = first to go,” whether you’re on a bike or driving a car. If you arrive at the same time as multiple others, then the vehicle to the “farthest right” (the direction, not the political posture) goes first. If for some reason that doesn’t apply, you take the aggregate of the computer polls and the coach’s poll and square off in a four-team playoff culminating in a showdown at the Rose Bowl. Whoever wins goes first and is also declared the National Champion of Intersections. In addition to continuing your bike commute, you get an ugly crystal trophy and maybe endorsements from a national sandwich chain when you turn pro. However you proceed, keep safety foremost in mind your own, go slowly, and be deliberate. Follow the rules as best you can and don’t hesitate to go (cautiously, but assertively) when it’s your time. —GP

Gear Prudence: In this era of young, hipster, novice, and considerably normal new bicyclists, I’m somewhat concerned that I may not be dressed appropriately while riding. As an old-school rider, I tend to dress up in bike jerseys and bike shorts just to go to work or even on dates (I’ll change when I get there). Am I a styling travesty? —Like, Yeah, Clothes Regulate Airflow

Dear LYCRA: Yes. It is wildly inappropriate for you to wear clothes meant for bicycle riding while riding a bicycle. Do you want to give people who see you on your bicycle the impression that you’re riding a bicycle? Hardly. You should ditch the bike clothes immediately and opt for attire more impractically suited to the task. Consider a wetsuit (flippers are a must) or a ball gown (with feather boa) or a ball gown over a wetsuit (with both boa and flippers) for double the reasonableness.

And if you don’t own a ballgown or wetsuit? Strictly speaking, not all rides require special clothes (normal-people clothes are surprisingly capable for normal-people activities, such as short bicycle trips), but if you feel more comfortable in bike jerseys and shorts, don’t be self-conscious about it. Nothing is more fashionable than insouciance. Wear what you want. —GP

Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who blogs at talesfromthesharrows.blogspot.com and tweets at @sharrowsdc. Got a question about bicycling? Email gearprudence@washingtoncitypaper.com.

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