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Gear Prudence: I’m pretty sure a local columnist wants to shove a broomstick in my spokes. If he does, what do I do? —Not Into Nasty Journalists’ Attacks
Dear NINJA: Don’t panic. I’m sure you’ve just mistaken the helpful, but errant, offer of a broomstick (perhaps to sweep up the hair you’ve ripped out while reading and rereading his column) for some kind of malicious attack. Either way, a broomstick through the spokes is bound to cause you some issues. First, try to remain upright. But if you’re heading for the ground, be sure not to land on the sidewalk! That will just further enrage the columnist and his bike-resenting ilk. Try not to break your fall by extending your hand, either. You might injure your wrist, and then how would you hate-click on article after article about the increasing tension between bicyclists and the world around them? What’s most important is that you take preventative measures and employ ample safety equipment. You might want to don a helmet, but what I really recommend is fashioning some padding to wear under your bike clothes from otherwise-unread newspapers and the needlessly inflammatory anti-bike views therein.—GP
Gear Prudence: I’m tired of yelling “on your left” but feel squeamish about getting a bell for my bike. Just wondering, though: Why do bicycle bells seem kosher in Europe but douche-y in the U.S.? —Rider In Need of Guidance
Dear RING: It’s really a matter of culture. Europe has a long-standing bell appreciation that the U.S. simply lacks. It’s been said that the Pilgrims set sail to escape the incessant bell-ringing of 17th century Holland, preferring to be “on your left” of the Atlantic Ocean, where, though it was somewhat inhospitable, at least it was quiet. I can’t think of a single American campanile that leans, and if we had one that did, we’d probably throw some chains around it, hitch it to a Ford F-150, and right that sucker in the name of Mom and apple pie. Our most famous national bell has a crack in it, for goodness’ sake! If you tire of “on your left” but remain bell-skeptical, try “excuse me.” It’s less ambiguous (whose left? My left? Your left?), and it’s more polite than dinging.—GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who blogs at talesfromthesharrows.blogspot.com. Got a question about bicycling? Email email@example.com.