Gear Prudence: Last year you gave some bike Halloween costume recommendations and they were all pretty lame. Do you have any better ideas for this year? —Seeking Costume And Rad Evening

Dear SCARE: Thanks for reading the column! Only the most dedicated readers would remember to chastise GP for bad year-old advice, while simultaneously asking for more, which will invariably be of the same quality. But here goes:

  • Wear black and white stripes, but also cover yourself in dirt and tire tracks, and say you’re one of the new Pennsylvania Avenue NW cycletrack barriers. Bonus points if you can spend the whole night moored to one place (it’ll be highly unlikely).
  • Dress up as a D.C. Public Library police officer (yes, they’re real) and disperse any party that seems too crowded or where anti-bike opinion seems too vociferous. Look overwhelmed.
  • Introduce yourself as “contributory negligence,” and when people ask what that is, pour your drink on them. When they start to complain, explain that since it’s at least one percent their fault, you’re not sorry and won’t apologize.
  • High-concept, low-cost idea: Put on a pair of really dark sunglasses at night and claim to be Vision Zero.
  • Wear whatever you wore to the Tweed Ride and say that you’re “a guy who did the Tweed Ride.” If that elicits shrugs, concede that you’re just an extra from Newsies.
  • Explain to everyone that you’ll be coming dressed up as the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Arrive to the party late 30 years late.
  • Don’t go as a podium girl. Fuck that shit. A far sexier costume would be equal prize money.

Whatever costume you choose, have fun with it. Bicyclists are known for their senses of humor and joie-de-vivre, so this will be a real opportunity to shine. —GP

Gear Prudence: I’ve been commuting by bike for a few months now and have been using a backpack, but my friends insist that I should buy a rack and panniers. I see a lot of bikes with racks and they mostly look the same, but I’m wondering if you have any recommendations. —Currently Assessing Racks. Really? Yes!

Dear CARRY: Using a rack and pannier is an effective carrying method, especially if you are going longer distances and don’t want to carry a lot of weight on your back. Rear racks are more common than front racks, but both are acceptable. Prior to purchase, ensure that your bicycle has the proper rack mounts (some bikes don’t). Racks vary in material, quality, the amount of weight they can carry, and accordingly, price. Same with panniers.

While racks are useful, GP suggests you consider a basket instead. A rack alone won’t accomplish very much (it’s just a platform), whereas a basket can provide an temporary home for all sorts of things, including your backpack. Baskets are especially good for groceries and will suffice even if you forget your reusable bags—just chuck your Funyuns in there and go. Wald (of Kentucky, if you like to buy American) makes quality, durable, reasonably priced baskets in a variety of sizes so consider them if you’re primarily looking for a device to assist in urban schlepping. —GP

Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who blogs at and tweets at @sharrowsdc. Got a question about bicycling? Email