Ask The Advice Pedaler: Etiquette for the Conscientious Cyclist

Dear Advice Crafter: I liked your ideas about what to do with old bike parts, but geez, it seems more trouble than it's worth to clean an old chain.


Dear Cheney: Here's a tip from SFBC member BikeDave: "Put the chain in an old soda bottle with some water and citrus degreaser (available at hardware stores and some natural food stores). Shake and wipe off!" Speaking of crafts, the Advice Pedaler just got back from Bike Summer in Portland, and folks there have done clever things with bike frames and parts they've collected from the dump. They held a chopper-building workshop that was a community event, rather like a quilting bee. Instead of fabric, needles, thread, and tea, their materials were bike frames, welding torches, duct tape, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. In addition to the lovely and ergonomically unique bikes they made (see for ideas), I also saw a charming little stool made out of sawed-up and re-welded bike frames, a bottle opener made out of a front fork, and candle holders made out of chain sets.

Dear Advice Pedaler: I got a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign. What can I do to fight it? The police should be out ticketing cars who run stop signs, not bikes. I slow for stops, but taking my foot out of my clips at every stop would be way too cumbersome.

I'm a Good Bike Rider

Dear Goody: Excuse me, but where does it say in the law that bicycles are exempt from stopping at lights or stop signs? Just like all other vehicles on the road, cyclists must give right of way to the vehicle on the right. You'll just have to chalk it up to experience and pay your ticket. Stop signs and stop lights are a fact of life for all road users in San Francisco. Learning to get your foot in and out of your toe-clips or "clipless" pedals is about the easiest thing you can learn on a bike!

The Advice Pedaler must add that there are situations in which cyclists can remain courteous and respect other vehicles' right-of-way at intersections: slow to a crawl, wait for the vehicle on the right to proceed, make sure no one else is entering the intersection, and then proceed. You must communicate your intentions through your body language and sign language to drivers. Sadly, the Advice Pedaler has seen too many cyclists just assume that stop signs aren't for them and zoom through them without regard to the other users waiting to cross.

Dear Advice Pedaler: If a bicyclist runs a red light or stop sign and there's no one at the intersection to witness it, is it against the law?

Never Got a Ticket

Dear Never: Pull-ease. This is an advice column, not a philosophy column.

Dear Advice Pedaler: Sometimes I just don't feel like biking up that hill. I've noticed that there are bike racks on the busses that serve my neighborhood, and I've always wanted to try using them, but I don't know how.

Bus Boy

Dear Bus Boy: After the bus stops, grab the silver lever in the middle and pull it up to release the rack. The rack falls down. Put your bike in one of the "trays". Your front wheel goes in the closed end of the tray. Pull up on the long lever with a hook at the end. It extends, and is spring loaded. Pull it out far enough to fit around the top of your front wheel, to about 11 o'clock, and let go. It's so simple, yet it holds on so well!