Gear Prudence: How far to the right side of the road am I required to ride? Does it have to be within a few feet of the sidewalk or right next to it? What about if there’s a bike lane there? —Recently I Got Hit There
Dear RIGHT: It’s a common misconception, but the DC Municipal Regulations are silent on the question where bicyclists must ride on the road. According to DCMR Title 18-1201, there’s no legal requirement to ride as far to the right as possible, and beyond that there are lots of good reasons why you shouldn’t hug the curb—there’s less room to maneuver should you see an obstacle or should someone unexpectedly step off the sidewalk. Give yourself some space just in case. D.C. law also doesn’t require bicyclists to ride in bike lanes when they’re present, and given how often they’re obstructed with parked or idling cars and sundry other obstructions, this makes sense too. In most cases, bicyclists will ride in bike lanes when they can (that’s why they’re there) and ride toward the right side of the road when there are no bike lanes in order to let drivers pass. But there’s no legal requirement demanding where on the road they must ride —GP
Gear Prudence: I ride my bike about once a month and never very far from home. My friend, who is really into bikes, insists that I have to learn how to change a flat tire. But, really, do I? I’m busy. —Necessary Or Mistaken Effort? Cycles Hardly (Almost Never). I Can’t.
Dear NOMECHANIC: Not if you’re busy! Sure, fixing a flat is a worthwhile skill that can be learned in about 20 minutes and prove useful should you find yourself stranded on the side of a road, but, like, have you seen how many new shows are on Netflix? And there are more coming every week. It’s hard to keep up as it is! And the HBO shows are going to come back soon with new seasons. Don’t forget brunch—that’s a weekly commitment that requires 4 hours each Sunday, to say nothing of the post-brunch boozy stumbling and misguided texting. Again, we’re only talking about a very easily graspable skill that could make the difference between your getting home and being stuck waiting an indeterminate time for a ride and finding a few minutes to learn how to remove and inspect a tire, seat a tube, and replace the tire pales in comparison to the literally dozens of other things you could be doing with your precious time that don’t increase your self-sufficiency and bicycling aptitude. So, no, don’t bother. It’s not worth it. —GP
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