Saturday, September 8, 2012

Quick Stops on a Fixed Gear Commuter Bicycle

On my bicycle, I often stop on a dime to look at something I find visually arresting

One reason I enjoy cycling (and alone, I guess) is that I stop whenever the mood, or need, strikes me. I roll easily off the road to a place to pause and look, or, if on a quiet road, just stop right where I am, to examine something close up, sometimes to take photos.

This leads to a related topic that it seems like I might be able to stop shorter on my fixed-gear commuter when it is loaded on the back with my work pannier/bag than any other bike I ride. The combination of front brake plus weight in the back plus shifting my weight backwards while putting back pressure on the pedals is a powerful non-skidding quick stop method. I haven't measured stopping distance or anything precise like that, but, for example, when I stopped as fast as I could so that a mother and two kids would clearly know that I intended to let them continue crossing in the crosswalk rather than waiting for me to ride through, I went from full commuting speed down to zero smoothly, quickly, and without skidding. Perhaps some actual measurements are required to see if there's anything to it.

Stopped at this one, too
But motor vehicle drivers, don't try this! To stop at random times to contemplate a pretty leaf, or a bunny rabbit, or bizarre campaignvertising signs, is not recommended in a motor vehicle, no. Doing so would be clearly unworkable. Unlike on a bicycle, or as a pedestrian, where we can stop to absorb the world whenever it catches our interest. Or whenever we want to pause to consider how to appropriate a specific campaign sign on the day after the election to make the world's greatest coroplast pannier. Suzy Stingray, I do enjoy your sushi by the way, but I feel your signage would create a pannier of ultimate power. Not only brightly colored, but matching my yellow bike, and helpful for weight distribution for quick stops, too! After election day, of course. Yum Yum!

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