Though spattered with ‘essence of bike,’ smile on

This is a guest post by Travis Fehr from New West Cycle, New West’s newest bike shop. New West Cycle is a community-oriented co-op specializing in reviving neglected and vintage bicycles.

Photo: Bernat Casero
Photo: Bernat Casero

As a home and part time bicycle mechanic, bicycle enthusiast, bike commuter, and believer in all things pedal-powered, I have come to rely on some practical and social practices that make my ride safer and more enjoyable.

One that I would particularly like to share is this: be nice.

Bike riders are a rugged, lonely, and sometimes maligned minority. The sideline is often where we ride, and so it follows that our presence can seem sidelined. One positive way to make your presence known is to think of yourself as an ambassador to the community of cyclists. For example, when a driver stops to let you cross the street, after the five previous have driven through your crossing without a glance, give a friendly nod, smile, wave, or some similar courteous gesture. The message will go to everyone within viewing distance that you are there and are friendly. Believe it or not, we can be intimidating with our chiseled quads and fiercely determined grimace, spattered with “essence of bike”.

There are of course different approaches to making our presence known, accepted, and respected. I am not dissuading bicyclists from using other methods, or claiming that this one will achieve the best results. I am suggesting this as a way to shed a positive light on our image, and I think you’ll find, like I have, that smiling while riding is not only a good way to make friends, but helps remind you of what you love about bike riding.

Besides, the bugs in your teeth nourish you with energizing protein!

2 Replies to “Though spattered with ‘essence of bike,’ smile on”

  1. It’s no longer practical for me to commute via bike (I have clients ALL OVER the mainland and I’m just not that fit) but this is sage advice indeed. When I rode, I rode with pride, courtesy, and an ever presence of mind to dissuade the idea that all cyclists are “crazy b*stards”. A friendly wave of thanks does wonders!

  2. I love what the guys at New West Cycle are doing! I bought 2 bike bells there – one a new little tea kettle (very New West, don't you think?) & the other a refurbished red bell for my partner. I love the care & courtesy shown by using bike bells (or horns) & it was confirmed that it is illegal to ride a bike without one.

    Thank you to the driver who was already stopped at the diagonal crossing when we came to it on our way to the Sky Train bike path. I lost my balance when I dismounted & "tested my helmet". (The squishy sound & bouncy feeling is the foam & styrofoam inside, not the brain.) The driver actually got out of his car, very quickly. All is well, but I shall now wear better shoes when biking. Wait, didn't I learn that lesson before?


    watch out

    for loose gravel –

    always hit

    even the slightest curb

    at a right angle

    remember your helmet –

    never wear sandals

    while cycling –

    always take

    a first aid kit

    and never


    try to adjust the fender

    when you are in


    Franci Louann 1980’s

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