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Gear Prudence: I’ve seen this twice recently and I’m totally baffled: bicyclists who ride with a blinking red light ON THE FRONT of their bikes instead of the back. This seems very wrong, especially since they didn’t have any lights in the back. Are these people morons, or is there some logic here I don’t get? —When Riders Obey Norms: Good Obviously Not Respecting Establishment: Death.
Dear WRONGONRED: The logic probably goes like this: I’m worried about oncoming drivers (or pedestrians stepping off curbs) not seeing me, so I will go all Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer to avoid collisions/save Christmas. And since drivers behind presumably have headlights, and therefore can illuminate what’s in front of them, wouldn’t a light on the back of my bike be comparatively less valuable?
Having a justification and being a moron aren’t mutually exclusive, however, and what these bicyclists are doing is wrong. They shouldn’t do it. Red lights belong in the back because that’s what society has agreed upon (and doing otherwise might prompt an observer to ask why someone is pedaling backward so furiously.) Bicyclists should give as much warning as possible of their presence to those overtaking them. Move the red light to the back, but more importantly, put a white light up front. That’s both the law and common sense. —GP
Gear Prudence: I would bike in the winter more if I could just keep my feet warmer. Obviously, I’ve tried wearing two pairs of socks. And a pair of heavy winter boots. It felt bulky and uncomfortable, and my feet were still cold. I’m out of ideas. Do you have any?—Chill Outside Leaves Dangling Fragile Extremities Exposed, Trembling
Dear COLDFEET: Frozen toes, along with cold fingers, rampant sniffling, leaky tear ducts, burning lungs, fogged sunglasses, a sticky chain, less daylight, frigid wind, and worries about slipping on ice, are a few of the things that make riding in winter slightly unpleasurable. You can delay the inevitable, but eventually the exposure to the cold over a very long ride will get to you. Multiple socks are good, but be mindful of the material. Wool is best and thickness is less important than layering. Your feet sweat a lot, so wicking away moisture is paramount. Neoprene shoe covers—either the ones that slide over the toes or the booties that cover the entire shoe—supplement good socks. Make sure your shoes aren’t too tight because reducing circulation works against your goal of staying warm. It’s also a good idea to hop off the bike every so often and walk around a bit. In extreme cases, some cyclists shove chemical hand warmers into their shoes, but at the point you’re ready to do this, just go home. —GP