Dos and Don’ts for Bikers on Bike to Work Week

ride to work riding commute commuting bicycle bicycling biking bike
The bike in lane is on loan. Photo: Jim Merithew/

“You bikers. Not one of you can obey traffic laws. You are constantly running the red lights and doing unpredictable things,” said the nice lady sitting across from me on the ferry. “I just want to run you all off the road.”

“Well let me just share a little secret with you. Yes, some of us break the traffic laws occasionally, but if we mess up, we die. And if you mess up, we die. There is very little chance there is anything we do where the ‘die’ part becomes a thing for you.”

“Hmmmmm. Interesting point.”

Drivers are trying to get somewhere fast and we are apparently messing with their mojo, but my day-to-day conflict is not with automobiles, but with the other “commuters” and especially the bike commuters.

What a bunch of rude, poorly-behaved, ill-mannered, unaware jackals.

So in honor of Bike to Work Week, and in no particular order, here is my list of things I believe will not only make your commute more pleasant, but it will also make my commute more pleasant.

The List

Wear a helmet. Even if you don’t care about your brain, it makes you seem more intelligent. And therefore worth not driving over.

Communicate. If you are going to ride up my ass and try to squeeze by me in a tight spot, you might want to open your trap and give me a heads up. More than likely if this maneuver goes bad, it will go bad for you and not me. Sorry about that.

If you have to listen to your music so loud you can’t hear me yelling at you, don’t blame me for … well … whatever I am about to do.

I’m not an e-bike hater, but don’t buzz me at speed and give me the look like you just owned my ass, because, you know, you didn’t.

There are a lot of great companies out there making amazing commuter bike clothes helping make your ride more comfortable, safe and stylish. I realize flip-flops, flannel shirts and the like are in style. But your ride would be so much more enjoyable with the proper attire. I love my Levi’s commuter jeans, my Giro New Road bike shorts, my socks from The Athletic, my new backpack from ILE and the Gore Tex knickers.

If you are riding a stolen bike with tiny clipless pedals you might want to go invest in a pair of cheap flat pedals. Or go steal a pair off a bike in the Mission. They will, once again, make your ride so much more comfortable.

You should feel free to commute on whatever contraption you so desire. But if you are going to ride a high-wheeler or a recumbent or a treadmill bike like contraption, then you should be prepared to discuss it, be gawked at and wait until it is clear before trying to mount your abomination.

Please stop yelling at me. I realize you are having a bad day. I mean, you are running on the embarcadero under the beautiful Bay Bridge and the sun is shining on your face, but is that really a reason to yell at me. I guess if you have to yell at me, if you could at least do it in a fashion where I can understand what about me pedalling by makes you so aggravated. Thank you.

Enjoy the ride. Don’t travel from point a to point b like a zombie on two wheels.

Oil your chain. Seriously, you have to hear that racket your bike is making. Day after day with the squealing and squeaking. Oil it.

I don’t need to see your butt crack. I don’t want to see your butt crack. And from the looks of it, no one does. Let’s get the crack under control. Wrap up the crack. Please. And thank you.

Smiling in the rain, instead of grimacing, works wonders.

You can’t have too many pair of gloves, shoes, baselayers and jersey options. Part of what keeps it interesting for me is constantly looking for a better garment solution.

I’ve tried pedals with cages, flat pedals and mountain bike pedals and I’ve settled on a pair of SPDs. Sure in some situation not having to clomp around in my cleats would be nice, but I still prefer to be clipped.

For San Francisco weather I love me a pair of knickers under a pair of shorts and a long sleeve jersey. It turns jersey pockets are extremely helpful for my keys, wallet, phone and morning muffin.

Flat tires are the great annoyance of all bicycle commuters and you should do everything possible to minimize the possibility of such things having. Make sure you top off the pressure in your tires, run as big a tire your rig will tolerate and check your rubber after every ride.

If you find yourself riding next to fixed-gear fixie mountain bike rig, who happens to be doing a 5 block long wheelie. Give him a little room, sit back and enjoy the show. This goes for just about any crazy oddity out on the road. It is much better to just kick back and enjoy the free circus, rather than joining in.

If you are in the city on a bike path trying to get your sprint repeats in, your zone 17 training or a personal PR for a Strava segment you are doing it all wrong. For the love of god please go find an appropriate stretch of road for your testosterone fueled adventure.

ride to work riding commute commuting bicycle bicycling biking bike
Hey kids, get yourself a really, really good lock. Photo: Jim Merithew/