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Gear Prudence: I don’t ride a bike, but I’m generally sympathetic to those who do. On occasion, when I drive near cyclists and especially on narrow roads, I feel the urge to honk to let them know that I’m coming. I’m not trying to be mean; I just want them to be aware. Is it ever OK to do this? —Honking Only Reasonably Near You
Dear HORNY: While your consideration is appreciated, it’s unnecessary. Rare is the cyclist who thinks she is riding on some paradisiacal road blissfully devoid of cars. People on bikes expect drivers and more likely than not, they’ve heard your engine or whatever NPR program is thumping from your subwoofers as you near. Car Talk would be unironic.
A car horn is a bit like Hodor: useful in an emergency, but not exactly eloquent. (Hodor.) It lacks the nuance to convey more than one message, and too often that message is “get the hell out of my way.” If that’s not what you want to say, instead of honking, slow down and pass with plenty of room. Three feet is the legal minimum in most places, including D.C., but more is always welcome. As you pass, cyclists will nod approvingly at the “Fuck Robert Moses” sticker on your bumper. —GP
Gear Prudence: I think I can figure out how to put my bike on the rack at the front of a Metrobus, but it’s not actually locked to the bus in any way. Bikes seem awfully vulnerable to theft, so what’s to stop some random person on the street from grabbing the bike and running off with it? —Somewhat Terrified Of Larceny Even Now
Dear STOLEN: While you could hop off the bus at each stop, run to the front, manically wave your arms to scare off potential thieves, and hop back on the bus right as it’s about to leave, this will fail to endear you to your fellow passengers and empty your SmarTrip card awfully quickly. Likewise, it seems impractical to camouflage your ride with mud and foliage and it would be far too expensive, to say nothing of dangerous, to pay security to sit atop your bike as you bus along. Try to put the bike in the rack closest to the bus. If you can lock a wheel to the frame with your u-lock, that should dissuade thieves. Or, hook your helmet through the spokes. Or, only put your bike on the bus when there’s a nicer (and more tempting) bike already there. Stand where you can keep an eye on it and be sure to look up from your phone when the bus is stopped, when your bike is the most prone to theft. You can also use the time idling in traffic to stretch your legs and lungs preparing to sprint and yell, just in case. —GP