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Gear Prudence: Isn’t it illegal in D.C. for two bikers to ride next to each other on the road? It seems like it should be. Bikes should be single file, like cars. —Apparently Bikes Ride Everywhere And Slow Traffic
Dear ABREAST: Nope, it’s legal, but it’s a common misconception that it isn’t. According to D.C. Municipal Regulations 18-1201.7: “Persons riding upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or part of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic…”
The fuzzy part is the meaning of “not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” One person’s normal and reasonable movement is another person’s “GET OUT OF MY WAY! HONK! VROOM!” Being on the road with honks and yelling isn’t the best time to sort out differences in legal interpretation, so GP’s advice for drivers is to chill out and wait if you’re slowed down for a second. And GP’s advice for cyclists is to move over when you can and ride single file temporarily in a show of courteousness. Minor efforts toward accommodation from everyone can go a long way. —GP
Gear Prudence: I’ve lived in Arlington car-free for 10 years. But I’m about to buy my first car and here’s why: because I got really into biking! There are all of these summer bike events out in Pennsylvania and West Virginia that I want to do that are essentially impossible to get to without a car. I’ve run the numbers, and it’d cost me more to rent cars every summer weekend than to just buy a clunker and put a bike rack on it. Pretty ironic, huh? But could I be overlooking downsides? —Useful Sometimes, Elapsed Driver Craves A Ride
Dear USEDCAR: You’re going to need to get a “one more car” sticker for your bike in a show of reverse smugness. It’s understandable to think you can solve your long-distance mobility problem with a car—cars are useful for exactly this!—and calculating the comparative cost of rental cars is prudent. Presumably, you also thought about whether you have bike friends who might be willing to give you a ride to these events. Maybe in exchange for you paying their registration?
GP wonders what the car is going to be doing the 350 days a year you’re not using it to drive to bumblefuck to ride a century. If you’ve lived car-free for a decade, you might have forgotten about the hassles of city parking. But even if parking is ample, a car is still one more thing in your life to manage. It’s an everyday commitment, even if you’re only rarely using it. Or maybe you’ll start using it more than you intended just because you have it. Are you OK with that? —GP