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Gear Prudence: What’s the proper etiquette for dealing with a fellow cyclist who is riding the wrong way up the bike lane, when I’m riding in the bike lane in the right direction and the two of us are on a collision course? —Swift Approaches Leave Me Offering Nasty Shouts
Dear SALMON: Pistols at dawn. The only reasonable way to reach satisfaction for such an offense is a duel. Another cyclist having the temerity to ride the wrong way down a bike lane while you ride the correct way is a glove slap across the headbadge and an affront to your personal honor, not just a misguided, half-assed manner of navigating born of laziness and insufficient infrastructure. You and your second can ride a tandem to the dueling grounds or arrive separately. I think the tandem is more practical, because how’s he supposed to get your bike home if, well, you know?
If the wrong-way cyclist refuses to meet you in genteel combat, try instead to forestall a collision by temporarily leaving the bike lane. Generally, bike lanes travel with the flow of traffic and you can exit one with minimal disruption to your travel. Most, after all, are just painted white stripes. They’re hardly Alcatraz. As you give way and the other rider passes, dramatically sigh and roll your eyes. Be sure to rant about this imbroglio after the fact on as many social media platforms as possible—that’s why they’re there. Though you were in the right and the hardship of moving your bike over a couple of feet is real—it’s not like you can just turn the handlebars a few degrees and change direction—it’s less inconvenient than crashing. Don’t expect the other rider to clear a path. Having thus far proven himself incapable of basic courtesy and cognizance of his wrongdoing, he’s unlikely to demonstrate it at your approach.
One ought not ride the wrong way down a bike lane. It’s pretty easy to know that you’re doing this, too. Use context clues, like the way the arrows are facing or the dramatically sighing and eye-rolling cyclists who keep passing you. Don’t feign ignorance if called out on your misdeed. You’ve already chosen to ride a bicycle—one of the more active ways of getting around—so dispense with the lazy shortcuts that come at the cost of your own and others’ safety (crashing into someone hurts, to say nothing of what a dueling pistol could do) and just ride a block over to go the right way. Don’t demand that other cyclists cope with your own selfishness. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who blogs at talesfromthesharrows.blogspot.com and tweets at @sharrowsdc. Got a question about bicycling? Email email@example.com.