Ask The Advice Pedaler: Etiquette for the Conscientious Cyclist

Dear Advice Pedaler:

While driving on Arguello the other day, I saw a cyclist run a stop sign. When I caught up with him, I told him he had made an illegal move. He just yelled something about my polluting the air and sped off. As he waited at the next red, I decided to give him a piece of his own medicine and I ran the red light. Arguello Street has gotten worse ever since those bike lanes went in!

Ken G.

Dear Ken:

Thank you for demonstrating yet another reason why bicycles should always be careful at lights, whether they are green or red. Just because a light is green doesn't mean there isn't a crazed motorist trying to make a point (or simply not paying attention) and running the red in the other direction.

Dear Advice Pedaler:

Music is really important to me and it gives me energy. I also love to bike. Is it OK to use my headphones when I ride a bike?

Kenny G.

Dear Kenny:

While you may feel that some easy jazz is what helps you stay calm, cool, and focused in traffic, riding a bicycle while wearing headphones is illegal per CVC 27400. Actually, the Advice Pedaler doesn't care if it's legal or illegal, she just thinks it's a bad idea.

Urban cyclists must use all their senses. So much of communication in traffic is through noise. Sure, many vehicle sounds can penetrate even John Coltrane's wildest solos, but a cyclist must also be able to detect the subtle sound of a bicycle bell or a passing cyclist's gentle "on your left."

If the Advice Pedaler is coming across rather heavy-handed on the headphone issue, it's because she was almost knocked into traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge by a headphone-wearing cyclist just the other day and has still not recovered from the trauma it induced.

NEWS FLASH: The Advice Pedaler Makes a Mistake! Twenty lashes with a greasy chain! Answering a recent question about safety in the bike lane, the Advice Pedaler told cyclists to carefully check for people in parked cars to avoid getting doored. Attentive readers reminded the Advice Pedaler that she shouldn't be riding in the "door zone" in the first place but should maintain a safe, door-length distance from parked cars. She regrets the incomplete advice.