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Gear Prudence: The future is here. Delivery robots now prowl our sidewalks, and, not to sound like a total Luddite, I’m freaked out about it. Since it’s only a matter of time before I encounter one while biking, I need to know how best to handle it. For the city cyclist, are these robots friends or foes? —Riding On Bike, Observing The Skynet
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Dear ROBOTS: D.C. hasn’t been this on edge about robots since The Day the Earth Stood Still, Gort. But they’re nothing to fear. The six-wheeled delivery drones look like Coleman coolers on wheels, trundling along the sidewalk at about two miles per hour carrying whatever sustenance (read: Funyuns) your stereotypical millennial was too lazy to walk a few blocks to pick up for themself. They’re hardly a menace, but they are a novelty. And when confronting anything new on a city street, it’s best to proceed with caution. Just give it a wide berth. It doesn’t want to hurt you. Probably. And while it’s tempting to initially declare these robots foes for taking up limited space allotted to cyclists and pedestrians, widespread robot diffusion might result in fewer delivery drivers, which would be a net gain for bikekind. —GP
Gear Prudence: It’s that time of year again: The bugs are back. And despite all my best efforts, they seem hellbent on flying directly into my mouth while I’m riding my bike. I cannot stress enough how very gross this is and how much I hate it, but it’s not like I’m riding around with my mouth open and a “bugs welcome” sign hanging from my uvula. Somehow they get in there anyway. Are there any precautions I can be taking to stop this once and for all? —I Need Some Entomological Cover Tout Suite
Dear INSECTS: Do you really think the bug is happy with the outcome either? Sure, you had to have a gross nature thing in your mouth until you spat it out, but the insect shook loose its mortal coil in a most ignominious way. That gnat was just minding its business before you rode through and unwittingly chomped it to death, and yet you’re the one taking umbrage? Please.
Obviously, you’ve already tried all the obvious stuff (riding in a Hannibal Lecter mask, riding in a Jason mask, riding while tooting a kazoo, etc.), but no solution is entirely foolproof. You could make a concerted effort to breathe through your nose and eschew conversation. But sometimes, no matter the precaution, the happenstances of life make it such that you end up with a bug in your mouth. So rather than raging against the unfairness of it all, spit it out, finish your ride, brush your teeth, and move on with your life. —GP