Gear Prudence: What are the guidelines for the one-fingered nose-blow while biking? While stopped at a red light? Obviously I wouldn’t blow at someone right next to me, but how far away from other bikers should one be? From pedestrians? —Stuffy Nose Troubles Biker, Leaves Others Wanting Extreme Revenge
Dear SNOTBLOWER: When it comes to the expression of precious bodily fluids while cycling, GP is considerably opposed. It’s just sort of gross to dapple the road with mucus, and rare are the circumstances that truly forgive it. Many of the greatest advances in civilization have related to the proper management and disposal of human wastes in less public and less societally deleterious ways. Snot rockets seem to fly against that. Certainly under no circumstance would you ever want to do this near another person. Have some dignity! Respect theirs! But if you’re alone (or if you’re with a group of likeminded boors who wouldn’t think any less of you) and if you’re in the middle of nowhere (never in the city) and and if you’re, for myriad reasons, truly unable to stop and use a tissue, then—and only then—go for it. But it’s still pretty gross. And if you choose to ignore this advice and your snot ever ends up on another person, well, GP can’t (and won’t!) defend you. —GP
Gear Prudence: Are cyclists legally required to pull over for emergency vehicles? I see some who do, but a lot who don’t. If bikers are in a bike lane, they’re not really blocking the road, so does that make a difference at all? —Should I Respect Emergency Noises?
Dear SIREN: Does it really matter what the law says? Common sense dictates an obligation to make way for emergency vehicles by moving over as far as possible and stopping. This is especially important for drivers, since cars are much bigger impediments on the road than a person on a bicycle is, but the general dictum of “if there’s a siren, get the fuck out of the way” is mode blind. For what it’s worth, the D.C. Municipal Regulations section on emergency vehicles states that “the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way” and also mentions that streetcars should also stop. Even though it doesn’t explicitly say anything about bicycles, the municipal regulations also state that cyclists have the same duties as drivers unless otherwise mentioned. So assume this law applies to cyclists too. Moreover, there’s a practical reason for pulling over: self-preservation. With drivers trying to get out of the way (often without taking due caution), you’d be likewise much safer if you did the same. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets at @sharrowsDC. Got a questions about bicycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.