travel 101 week 4

21 Nov

“get a bicycle. you will not regret it. if you live.”

it’s week 4 of our travel course. You’ve walked your shoes sole-less and now you’re that guy (or gal) roving about the city barefoot with a walking stick… or not. it’s okay… no one will judge you… much. don’t worry though, a sure way to remedy such a sorry state is to get yourself off your feet and onto a bicycle. you can leave the stick at home. please. 

this week we’ll cover the basics. if you have a bike you are one step ahead of the game. however, if you don’t have your own, i suggest looking up used bikes using an online vendor – i purchased my current road bike through craigslist for a mere $80. granted it’s hot pink (not my first choice in colors by a long shot) but other than that it’s perfect. this week’s session won’t go into the fine points and details of purchasing your own bicycle (that class is saved for a later date).

biking uses a lot of the techniques we learned from walking, however the speed at which you are traveling is much faster and you now have more space to take into consideration when performing crazy, traffic-defying maneuvers. there are also state laws that you should keep in mind before heading out on a biking adventure. the helmet law is one of the easiest to adhere to (and one of the easiest to break). this site has an up-to-date list of the helmet laws just in case you’re curious.

as odd as it might seem, this is the equation governing the movement of bicyclists:

bike = car

this means that you should adhere to the rules of the road as if you were a car. because according to this fancy equation you are a car. it’s going to be a little nerve-racking at first, heart-stopping at times, maybe even suicidal… but the thing is you are a part of the traffic so just ride as if you belong on the road. you have the same rights as other “drivers”.

so first *rule of biking  is to go with the flow of traffic. riding against traffic is a bad idea as it puts you in the path of vehicles entering the street from a stop sign or merging road. also, since you are a “car” you aren’t supposed to ride on the sidewalk (side walk, not side bike).

now you are riding on the “right” side of the street mind the traffic flow. when merging into traffic, yield to traffic on the main street. do not run red lights… because it is dangerous… and rude… although if there isn’t a soul in sight, please don’t stand there and look helpless. for you own sake run the light.

now you’re easing into riding around and the whole “i am a car” concept doesn’t seem so strange anymore. but then you see some crazy trying to parallel park his suv in a spot where not even one of those smart cars could fit. don’t panic. check the traffic behind you by looking over your shoulder. if no one is close, make a nice maneuver to your left that will ensure you are far enough to avoid whatever may be in your way. however, if there is a constant flow of traffic, you’ll want to change lanes by pointing in the direction you wish to move. do not try and merge into traffic that does not acknowledge your presence. if drivers are whizzing past you, it’s alright to walk your bike past the obstacle at hand.

alright, we’ve got you moving in a straight line and even changing lanes. that’s brilliant. but it’s pointless if you can’t manage an *intersection. remember that you are a car… so the lane you choose should be dependent upon the direction you need to go. also, don’t hog up the entire lane if there isn’t a marked area for bikes. be extra cautious when passing cars at intersections. turning cars are dangerous to your health. lastly, if you must cross lanes of traffic, do so one at a time and always look and yield to cars.

if your biking adventures unfold into the night hours, know that you must be visible to both traffic approaching from behind and in front of you. you’ll need to purchase a light and reflector for your bike. 


other points to consider:

do not ride within a door’s width of a parked car… riding into an opening door is not fun

be extra cautious riding over steel plates and any areas of construction

cross railroad tracks at a 90 degree angle to avoid falling


*all rules are made to be broken

*most car-bike collisions happen at intersections or driveways







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