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Gear Prudence: I got splashed by a driver and I confronted her. Calmly, I approached at the next stop light and explained that as a result of her driving through a puddle that I was now covered in water and that next time she should be more careful. I didn’t know what to expect, but the reaction I got was over-the-top cursing and telling me that I have no right to the roads. She also told me to get a job (which I do, in fact, have). Looking back, I wonder if I could’ve handled the situation differently or if that lady’s reaction was just a crazy outlier. I don’t think I did anything wrong—did I? —What Error Transpired?
Dear WET: How exactly did you think this would play out? Maybe a profuse apology followed by an offer to pay for your dry cleaning? Cursing someone out is never polite (nor is insinuating a person has no right to the road, nor employment), but GP is struggling to understand what redress you sought for your grievances. An apology, no matter how sincere, wouldn’t have made you any drier, and unless you’re thoroughly convinced that your soaking was the result of malevolent deliberateness (perhaps she laughingly yelled “Tsunami!” through an open window), it would’ve simply been better to let this one go. You could’ve explained away your wet clothes with an elaborate lie about how you saved a puppy from a well or something. They’d call you a hero. —GP
Gear Prudence: What’s the proper protocol for when you’re out on a ride and you see someone you know riding past you in the other direction? Just wave and keep going? Is that rude? Should you stop and chat instead? —Tarry And Lengthily Kibitz?
Dear TALK: It’s a split-second decision that has to happen in the briefest, most fleeting moment right after facial recognition. You must quickly assess both your willingness to stop and desire to converse, the other rider’s willingness to do the same, and the overall conditions, such as terrain and the presence of other bicyclists, that could complicate any action that’s more than blurting out a name or giving the most truncated of nods. There’s nothing rude about a word of recognition and carrying on your way. However, if you get the impression that the other rider would like to chat and you’d like to do the same, GP’s advice is this: have squeaky brakes. The sound of your slowing and stopping will alert the other rider of your desire, perhaps enough that he or she will stop as well. If not, oh well. Don’t chase. Unless they owe you money. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.