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Gear Prudence: You probably hear excuses from people all the time about why they don’t bike more, but I swear that mine is real: I’m afraid of biking on bridges! Since my commute requires me to cross the river, my phobia rules out riding to work. This is so limiting, and I’d like to overcome it. What should I do? —Frightened, Especially Above River
Dear FEAR: The fear of bridges is called gephyrophobia (pronounced with a soft “j” like in Jeff … Bridges), and based on some cursory Googling, it appears to be common. Sufferers either doubt the structural integrity of the bridge or have associated phobias related to heights, falling, crossing open bodies of water, and/or card games their grandparents play.
If you have multiple options, go out of your way to find a bridge with the widest sidewalk or where you can ride farthest from the edge. Stay clear of the ones with low ledges, narrow paths, and the ones that get too crowded. Keep your eyes locked on what’s ahead of you and focus on maintaining a regular breath. Remind yourself that trolls aren’t real and, if they were, they’d totally live under something else. Alternatively, you could skip riding on the bridge entirely by putting your bike on the front of a bus for the river crossing. This’ll slow you down, but at least you can bike for the rest of the trip. —GP
Gear Prudence: It’s the end of a rough year, and to offset a lot of the very bad things that seem to be happening I want to do some good with my year-end charitable donations. I love biking and was wondering if you knew of any good bike organizations where my money would have a real impact. —Definitely Over Negativity, Alms Target Elusive
1. Empty your checking account at the ATM.
2. Buy a bucket and fill it with money.
3. Rain down bills from a building along the 15th Street Cycletrack!
This might technically not be tax-deductible, but you’ll definitely be helping local cyclists. Just give GP a heads up before you do it.
If you’d like to be more targeted with your donations, there’s a bounty of organizations that would love your support. National organizations, like the League of American Bicyclists or People for Bikes, advocate for the big issues and help develop strong networks and best practices. At the local level, no organization does more than the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), and a gift to them can help bring about tangible change in your community. Some worthy local bike groups are those that help refurbish bikes to get people (especially kids!) riding. Phoenix Bikes and Gearin’ Up DC both have educational missions and they’re also great destinations for in-kind donations if you have a lot of extra bike stuff lying around. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about cycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.