Friday, September 17, 2010

The Most Important Cycling Upgrade of All

It's right there, between your shoulders and your helmet

The most important cycling upgrade of all is available to anyone. It is free of charge. It doesn't require any special ability, experience, or even a great deal of preparation. Everyone who rides a bicycle already has at least one. All that is required to upgrade is to actually use it actively. 

Now, this may seem obvious to many, yet, every day I see clear evidence that, either by conscious decision, or lack of awareness (and I hope for all of us the majority is the latter rather than the former), this natural resource for cyclists is seriously underused.

I've tried to boil it down to a few starter ideas to plant the seeds that might blossom in fertile ground into happy, permanent brain trees which take fuller advantage of this resource we already possess. I see so many violators of one or more of these almost every day that I feel compelled to print them on little cards, chase people down and hand them out. Or something. 

1. See other users of the road as people, and act toward them as you would wish them to act toward you, no matter what your immediate perception of them. Your initial perception may be wrong, but the simple moral imperative to treat others as you wish to be treated never will be wrong.
2. Ride in the same direction as traffic and not against it.
3. Be aware of your surroundings, and be prepared to respond gracefully to the unexpected.
4. Obey the traffic laws.
5. Research the cycling techniques appropriate to your environment, and practice them.
6. Ride predictably and signal your intentions clearly with ample advanced warning.
7. Have fun.

As guidelines, reality may require that any of them be bent or adjusted from time to time. I'm not putting them forward as hard and fast statements of necessity. I'm saying, it would be a better cycling world if more cyclists would make that free upgrade and give these a thought or two when they ride. Because, while obviously none of us follows all of them 100% of the time, too many of us do none of them all of the time, and that's actually bad for everyone. I see a lot of upgrade potential out there every day. You! Stop running that red light, it's time to upgrade! You! Stop riding against traffic, it's time to upgrade! The rest of you! Have a great weekend! Get up. Go ride.



  1. I loved this! And totally concur.

  2. Nicely put. +1 from me, it is so nice and simple I think i might cross-post to it.

  3. ON THE OTHER HAND, if you neglect this item, it'll save you money because there'd be no point to purchasing a helmet!

    JRA was not a Boy Scout. Otherwise he would have boiled his excellent seven rules down to just two. "Be Prepared" and "Do a Good Deed Daily."

    And did you see that photo of the French Canadian over on Rantwick's cross post?

  4. emma your concurrence is a sweet occurrence in the midst of my slow decurrence.

    RANTWICK much appreciated and if I had your skillz I would have included a handy card to print out and pass out to potential upgraders.

    jeff thanks. I guess out there on the road when it's miles between intersections you don't see as many potential upgraders as you come across in an urban setting.

    Steve correct as usual! Although I once had a roommate who was an Eagle Scout and who thought his positive influence would reform me. I think the influences went more the other way, however. And yes, I did see Monsieur T!

  5. Wouldn't it be nice if that upgrade came with the helmet?
    Oh, and I need to upgrade my legs.

  6. Leg upgrades are not free limom. And I don't think the upgrade will come with the helmet until the iHelmet comes out next year.


Please feel free to comment here, almost anything goes, except for obvious spam or blatantly illegal or objectionable material. Spammers may be subject to public ridicule, scorn, or outright shaming, and the companies represented in spam shall earn disrepute and ire for each occurrence.