Welcome to Santa Cruz County’s Bicycle Courier Blog

I thought it would be great to have a place where Bike Couriers and Bike Riders could meet and talk, share stories, trade advice, and build an online community. I look forward to reading and writing our Courier stories, news, and comments.

Rick Graves

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fixed vs. Gears

I'm looking around the various messenger forums (see Lucian Gregg on this blog) and noticing an escalating conflict that is fuzzy in definition but focuses on the fixed gear bike.

I don't want to talk about the narrow conflict of gears/brakes vs. fixed gear but rather the larger reality of the conflicts between everyone that shares the road and the consequences of certain actions and attitudes to those of us that ride for a living every day.

Everybody knows it's how you use it. Experience breeds caution.
Do you slide behind pedestrians, encouraging them to get across safely, or do you buzz-bomb their noses in a blaze of purple and yellow, breeding hatred of all cyclists?

What I wanted to get at in this blog is ways to avoid conflict and possibly death on the road and one of the best ways and hardest to accomplish this is to develop "wu wei" or I call it "duck back".

When I was in my first couple of years in New York I used to marvel at how the most laid back geezers made the most money. Later I realized it was all about the attitude-slowing down makes you more efficient-the more you try to influence or make an impression on the people and obstacles you run across messing in any given day-the more energy you expend and less efficient you become.

Bad accidents and bike trouble start to accumulate and before you know it you're yelling at your dispatcher or client and digging it deeper. Worst of all you are not looking for that opening door or the turning bus-driver who for god sakes can't see if you're riding in his right-side blind spot thinking about how your girlfriend hates you instead of seeing his blinker or tires running you over-and boom-you are riding wheel well for three blocks while your helmet keeps you conscious to feel the pain.

Wu wei will show the way to help us all give each other a brake. Messenger and hipster, commuter and activist, fixed and gears-let's get a duck's back about this and let it slide.

Love, Rick