We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Gear Prudence: My daily bike commute takes me past an elementary school. The other day when I rode by, a truck pulled out from the alley without looking, and I had to slam on my brakes to avoid a collision. Reflexively I unleashed a barrage of curses at the driver to express my feelings about his carelessness. I then realized I was doing this right in front of five-year-old kids and their mortified parents. This got me thinking: Given how visible bicyclists are, do we have a special obligation to watch our language, especially around kids? —Cracked Under Street Stress
Dear CUSS: Your response to nearly getting run over was some foul language in front of some kids, and afterwards you felt like a motherfucking asshole son-of-a-bitch shithead for it. Do cyclists, given that they’re not encased in a vehicle with windows to muffle their discontent, have a special obligation to watch their language? GP doesn’t think so. Should you, if you notice that there are constituencies with delicate ears around, try to mitigate the colorfulness of your cursing? Sure. No one wants to look like a crazy angry person, even if the circumstances warrant it in the heat of the moment following a close call. But if any of these kids are being regularly driven to school through D.C. traffic, there’s likely nothing you can say about drivers that they haven’t heard from mommy or daddy before. —GP
Gear Prudence: We bought a house with a small 20-by-20-foot patio, and we would like to keep our two bikes out there. Aside from buying a bike shed (I’m not sure we have the room), what are some creative ways to store the bikes securely and out in the elements? —Storage Help Entreaty, Dude
Dear SHED: Some folks keep their bikes on porches and chain them to high heaven in the hope they don’t wander off, but if you can fit it, a locked bike shed is probably the way to go. You’ll want to make sure that it’s secure, that there’s room enough to get the bikes in and out easily, and that the shed has access from another outside point (unless you’re willing to roll the bike through the house to get to it, which might not be great on rainy days). To discourage thieves, cover the shed in camouflage netting or write “CAUTION: Radioactive Snakes” on the outside. Of course, storing radioactive snakes might get you in trouble with your HOA, so be ready to explain if pressed.
If you can’t fit a shed, you could try a tarp, which is a pretty inexpensive though less secure, solution. Or you could just keep them inside which, if the bikes are especially dear, is probably the best idea anyway. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email email@example.com.