Gear Prudence: I want more people to ride bikes. Amongst my friends, I’ve tried a bunch of arguments: It’ll save you money, it’s good exercise, it’s fun, etc. But I’ve never tried “global warming!” It seems like during the last year the reality of climate change is sinking in for more people. Do you think touting the environmental benefits will be persuasive to get more people to bike? —Will Anyone Ride More If Nagged Gently?
Dear WARMING: Sure, for a certain segment of people. That biking is zero emission will be compelling to people who are looking to reduce their personal carbon footprint, but it’s unlikely that you will be the first to break this news to your friends. In GP’s experience, the reason people are or aren’t biking has a lot more to do with their lived experience—and the difficulty of fitting bicycling into it—than it does with environmental commitment. Reminding them that the icecaps are melting doesn’t make their office any closer or the roads any less hostile. Don’t shy from mentioning the environmental benefits of biking—every bit helps and decarbonizing transportation is imperative in fighting climate change—but also don’t be surprised if this doesn’t persuade. Advocate for biking with the “kitchen sink” approach. Each benefit resonates differently with different folks. —Gear Prudence
Gear Prudence: I was biking and stopped at a red light behind another cyclist. She was really attractive, but that’s not the point. She dropped something and got off her bike and bent over to pick it up. At exactly that time, I accidentally dinged my bell. She shot my the dirtiest look I’ve ever gotten in my life. I was mortified and mumbled “sorry,” but I think that she thinks I was objectifying her when it was a total accident. What should I have done after I unfortunately dinged? —Worrisome Happenstance! Open Ogling? Please! Suggestions?
Dear WHOOPS: What an inconvenient time to “accidentally” ring your bell! For this response, GP will take you at your word that your ill-timed dinging was coincidental and that you’re not a total creep. If upon reflection you determine that the dinging was shy of completely accidental, GP would kindly suggest that you stop being gross.
Accidental or not, you shouldn’t have been surprised to have received a withering glance. Sexism is real, and it’s unlikely that this is the first time this woman has felt demeaned by it. She doesn’t know you, and your mumbled “sorry” was just as likely to have been your response to being called out as it was for accidentally dinging. In the case that you ever errantly ding again, be more forthright with your apology. Make eye contact and be sincere. Faux pas or not, own it, accept that she might not believe you, and be more careful in the future to keep your hands away from your bell. —GP