Gear Prudence: Last night, I was biking behind a cyclist who had no lights. I found it hard to see him and I imagine drivers did too. We were stopped together at a stoplight and I debated telling him to get some lights, but couldn’t figure out how to say that without sounding like a scold. How do I politely tell ninja cyclists to light up? —Listen, I’m Genuinely Helpful, Though Usually Peeved

Dear LIGHTUP: Riding in the dark without lights is inexcusably bad. When it starts getting dark earlier, many cyclists are either caught unaware or think there’s still enough ambient light to make bike lights unnecessary. This is wrong. More than any other piece of equipment, including helmets, proper lighting does the most to keep a bicyclist safe at night. Your desire to intervene is laudable. You could be cutesy and say, “Oh, forget your lights?” But GP doesn’t cotton to cutesy. Go with the direct, “Hey, you need lights.” This is both clear and factually accurate. When you catch an errant “Fuck off,” which’ll probably happen, you’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing you’re right. If you really want super karma points, buy a couple of pairs of cheap light sets and hand them out as needed. They’re not too costly, and in that way, you’ll be solving problems at the same time as identifying them. —GP

Gear Prudence: In spite of the annual objections, you have a horrible tradition of coming up with terrible bike-themed Halloween costume ideas. Again, we’ve all asked you to stop. You’re not going to do it again this year, are you? —Geez. Honestly Over Stupid Themes. 

Dear GHOST: As with all tedious horror tropes, there’s always a sequel! Halloween and bicycling are a great pair. One is about wearing a wacky outfit and coming up with excuses to binge on crazy amounts of calories. The other is Halloween. 

Here’s a list of costumes that’ll be sure to make your friends say “huh?”

Wear garish colors and park yourself wherever you please. You’re dockless bikeshare. Extra points if your costume falls apart within minutes.

Put on some roller skates and carry a couple of D batteries and say you’re an E-bike. Note: costume not permitted in NYC. 

Never show up at all. You’re the 6th Street NW cycletrack. This is a great way to to reuse your Fugazi reunion costume from a few years back. 

Travel erratically, like you have no idea where you’re going. Make sudden movements toward the curb and anyone holding a smart phone. You’ll need a U sticker or a pink mustache to really pull together the look.

If you are trick-or-treating by bike this year, have fun with it. The snickers you receive might even be candy. —GP

Gear Prudence is  Brian McEntee, who writes @sharrowsdc. Got a question about bicycling? Email gearprudence@washcp.com.

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