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Gear Prudence: While biking around the city, I frequently encounter runners in the bike lane or cycletrack. On one hand, the percentage of road surface dedicated exclusively to cyclists is pathetically small, and the infringement of that space by a non-cyclist may understandably elicit a hostile response, such as “DON’T RUN HERE, ASSHOLE!” On the other hand, in the grand scheme of things, having to dodge a runner from time to time isn’t such a big deal. So what’s the proper reaction? —Remorseless Usurpers! Now Scram!
Dear RUNS: Yes, runners using bike lanes are annoying. No, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, they shouldn’t be there. No, you shouldn’t run them over. Yes, you could say, “Hey, don’t run here!” No, they won’t care. It’s not like they’re accidentally in the bike lane; it’s a pretty purposeful decision underlaid by various rationalizations ( “the sidewalk is too crowded,” or “the sidewalk is blocked,” or “the sidewalk hurts my knees,” etc.), similar to the thought process of all other non-bicyclists who ever find themselves advertently where they shouldn’t be. And while you could try to make this point by riding your bike around a high school track, dinging your bell at each runner you pass and insisting that you had no idea that bikes shouldn’t be there in spite of a wide variety of context clues and an outright prohibition, it’s probably better to learn to accept the stray bike lane runner, roll your eyes at them as you pass, and not let your frustration overwhelm you. —GP
Gear Prudence: How do I tell a bike-commuting coworker that he smells pretty rank after riding into work? —Nasty Odors Souring Employment
Dear NOSE: Bike commuter or not, how do you tell anyone that you find his personal odor noxious and offensive? It’s a conversation that few would revel in having. But if it’s bothering you to the point of distraction (and perhaps if other colleagues have also noticed), it’s worth mentioning. Do it in private, and be sympathetic, like you’re doing him a favor of pointing it out and not like you’re telling him that he’s a horrible, unclean, noisome, malodorous slob.
Ideally, though, nobody would have to have this conversation. It’s incumbent on bike commuters to freshen up upon arrival. This might mean a shower, or it might just mean a quick hand wash and glance in the mirror, as you might do if you walk to work. Bike commuting does not excuse you from the general principles of professional decorum. And you shouldn’t put it on your colleagues to tell you if you stink. —GP