Gear Prudence: It was dark and late and I was in Adams Morgan. It all happened very quickly. I was riding home and something—I’m not sure what—scurried across my bike’s path. It was too late to swerve. I felt a bump under my tire. I heard a noise. But I kept going. I think I ran over a rat. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to bike again. This is so gross. I wasn’t supposed to stop, right? —Riding Absolutely Terrified
Dear RAT: At least it wasn’t a squirrel? Maybe you just dinged the rodent? It’s probably fine. City animals are hearty and bikes aren’t that heavy. Frankly, GP thinks it’s better for everyone that there’s no definitive resolution here. Unless you know rat CPR (the Red Cross does not give classes in this), what’s done is done and while it was intensely squirmtacular, there seems to be little sense in stopping and going back. Perhaps use this occasion to justify buying a better front light—one of those really bright ones that ensures that nothing can ever again cross your path unseen. —GP
Gear Prudence: I’ve noticed something lately and I wonder if it’s a new trend. Every day I see bike commuters using their rides home to make phone calls, using the microphones on their earbuds. It’s hands free, so their hands are on the handlebars and they’re just chatting away. I’m not sure I would ride my bike with headphones on, but I could also probably stand to call my mom more often. This seems like a good solution. What do you think? —Chatting Aloud, Liking Listening
Dear CALL: More than once has GP been stopped at a red light when someone has pulled up behind him, babbling aloud. After thinking this was an attempt to strike up a conversation, GP espied the headphones and soon thereafter realized that this was yet another phoning bike commuter. It might not be a new trend, but it’s certainly a thing that happens.There are pros and cons.
It’s good that they’re not texting—hands and eyes must both be used in the operation of the bicycle. And it’s very D.C. to maximize productivity while commuting. Metro riders can read and/or clip their toenails (no) and car commuters can listen to podcasts, so why shouldn’t bike commuters get to pedal along slowly while talking with mom? It’s probably not too distracting (this probably varies by mother), but GP wonders if you should be so cavalier in giving up what is likely one of your only moments of quietude during the day. Let your bike commute be a time for contemplation. Don’t clutter it if you absolutely don’t have to. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.