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Gear Prudence: For the first time this year, I’m trying to bike to work all year round. But since the time change, I have found the rides home absolutely terrifying. It’s just so dark! I bought bright lights, and it still doesn’t seem safe enough. I have no problem driving or walking at night, but something about bicycling in the dark scares the crap out of me. Is something wrong with me? Help! —Please, I’m Totally Cowering Here Because Lights Aren’t Completely Keen
Dear PITCHBLACK: The night is dark and full of terrors. But if it’s any consolation, those same terrors are out in the daytime too, where sunlight exposes the full contours of their scariness. Wait, this doesn’t sound like consolation at all. If you’ve purchased bright bike lights—and they’re truly bright—you should be able to see approaching hazards and are quite visible to other road users, which are the two things that make riding in the dark perilous.
Bicycling combines the exposure of walking with the speed of driving, so it’s no surprise that your reaction to the nighttime is different. GP thinks you’ll probably grow more accustomed to night riding with additional time and practice. It’s new for you and you shouldn’t automatically expect any new experience to instantaneously feel comfortable. But if it remains truly miserable and no amount of additional lights makes you feel more secure, don’t martyr yourself. —GP
Gear Prudence: Ever have a really good first date, but then she totally ghosts? I thought we totally hit it off. Conversation was good and we seemed to click on multiple levels. I walked her back to the Metro and I had my bike with me. When I leaned in for a goodnight kiss, MY STUPID BIKE WAS IN THE WAY. I looked down, hesitated, pulled back and she pulled back too, and then that was it. She waved, went into the Metro and even though I’ve messaged her a few times since, nothing. Am I wrong to blame my bike? —Stymied Man Out Of Chances Here
Dear SMOOCH: Dude, that’s rough. But you’re blaming the bike? No way someone who was actually into you reverses course over some trifling top tube trepidation. GP fears that you misread the cues and that the lack of response indicates an absence of interest that would’ve existed even had your bike been better placed. For future reference, should you wish to continue biking to dates and want the possibility of the night wrapping up more favorably, heed the cri de coeur of cyclists everywhere: on your left! That’s where you should keep your date, with your bike on your right side. Not only will you keep your bike out of your way in case of kiss, you’ll also avoid getting drivetrain schmutz on you or her. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about cycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.