Gear Prudence: I?m a daily Capital Bikeshare user, and overall, I?m very happy with it. Once in a blue moon, though, I?ll grab a bike and it?s just kind of broken. But it?s not broken enough to not ride it. In fact, I sort of like the challenge of trying to ride these wonky bikes. Though I wonder?what?s the most broken a Bikeshare bike can be before it stops being safe to ride? ?Bikeshare User Savors Trying Erroneous Devices
Dear BUSTED: First of all, GP hopes that you?re pressing the wrench button on the dock when you return these busted bikes. This tells Bikeshare that the bike needs a little TLC and should be temporarily taken out of service. They?ll even send you an email so you can provide some additional information about what?s wrong, and that?ll help them with a quicker diagnosis and resolution. Even though you might like the sensation of riding bikes that are a little off, do everyone the favor of reporting them.
There is something thrilling about a bike that?s not exactly dialed in. It adds a degree of difficulty and excitement?a brief break from the boring monotony of efficient, cheap, safe, and accessible transportation. Generally speaking, you can ride on flattish tires; if the steering is kind of screwy; if the crank makes weird noises; or if the bike doesn?t shift. If the brakes seem off, don?t chance it. ?GP
Gear Prudence: I have a problem. I can?t ride my bike home without needing to stop to pee somewhere along the way. Yes, I?m consulting a doctor. But in the meantime, I need your help: Where?s the best place for a bicyclist to stop his commute in the city in order to heed the call of nature? ?Places I Seek Solace
Dear PISS: GP is pleased that you?ve recognized that perhaps there?s an underlying medical situation and you?re seeing a professional. GP isn?t qualified to give medical advice (though it would have involved unguents and leeches), so advice on where and how to stop will have to suffice. The advice is this: don?t. Everyone knows that bicyclists need to have complete traffic-law immunity. Skip stop signs. Assume red lights are green. Affix a siren to your helmet and/or sound some kind of claxon that announces to the world that you have concerns bladder-wise that subvert the normal rules of the road.
Technically, the laws haven?t quite caught up to the ?cyclists can do whatever they want if they need to pee? rule, and it?s sort of antisocial to put your own temporary discomfort ahead of civic order. If you really need to stop, here?s one idea: the library. Pop in, do your thing, and borrow a book. If your condition persists, at least you?ll be well read. ?GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.