Gear Prudence: Twice in the last week, I’ve run into friends while we were both commuting in the 15th Street cycletrack. Which etiquette is more important in these scenarios: not biking away from your friend mid-conversation, or not biking in such a way that you slow/block the people biking behind you? —Another Bicycle Rider Equals A Slow Twosome
Dear ABREAST: The narrowness of most bicycle infrastructure in D.C. prevents sociability and suggests single-file riding. That’s the price we pay for outsourcing its design to Tusken Raiders. Were the lanes wider, you could accommodate a side-by-side chat and also allow those in a hurry to zoom past. Conversation is especially complicated on the bidirectional 15th Street cycletrack, where you not only have to contend with those passing you, but also those riding headlong towards your talky dyad. How many of your fellow cyclists are you willing to inconvenience just so you and your bud can blather quotidian niceties?
Either equip your bike with a CB radio (“Breaker! Breaker! Conscientious convoy coming through!”) or ride side-by-side fully aware of those who might wish to get by and then move over to let them. After you’ve been dinged at 15 times, you’ll probably drop any pretense of civilized conversation anyway. But you don’t need to ditch your friend. —GP
Gear Prudence: Is there a polite way to inform the bicyclist in front of you that his or her bike shorts (or other stretchy activewear) have stretched to the point of transparency? Is this a subject one should even broach? I’m not opposed in any way to people being comfortable on their bikes or celebrating their bodies, but these displays seem unintentional. —Mulling Over Obvious Nudity, Endlessly Distressed
Dear MOONED: Yikes. GP, as a rule (and likely, to a fault), takes to heart the lessons of the after-school specials of his youth and NEVER TALKS TO STRANGERS. This is true whether strangers are trying to lure him with candy into the back of a windowless van or whether strangers are donning especially revealing bike clothing. Is there a non-awkward way to say, “I can see your butt. Is that what you want?” I sure can’t think of one.
Every so often, bicyclists should assess for themselves their level of clothing transparency. Sometimes clothes stretch or fade and otherwise become see-through to levels that might not be intended. If you’re concerned about this potentiality (and you very much might not be concerned, which is also totally fine), don’t expect your compatriots on the road to point it out. Check a mirror or check with a close friend. —GP