What questions do people ask you about Bike Pittsburgh or biking in general?

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Lolly
Participant
#

As each of us ride around, people often assume that all cyclists represent all other cyclists and that each of us is something of an ambassador for our chosen form of transportation.

I’m putting together an FAQ for Bike Pittsburgh and for our volunteers so I was wondering what are some of the questions that people ask you. Do pedestrians and drivers ask you questions when riding or locking up?

Are there are few questions you may have heard over and over, perhaps while volunteering with Bike Pittsburgh? If so, it would really help us to compile these to prepare future volunteers.

Any input you have to contribute will be incredibly valuable.


Noah Mustion
Participant
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“you ride in the street?”


Lolly
Participant
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Not for the FAQ, but “you ride in those shoes?” “how?!”


dbacklover
Participant
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Well I was talking at work about the bridesmaid dress ride and flock ride after it when one of the girls at work asked if we had to get police escorts since we were riding on the street.

at first I thought she meant since there was such a large group but she thought you werent allowed to ride on streets like that.

after talking with her I learned she thought bikes were only really allowed on neighborhood streets, (you know kids riding infront of their houses) but not on real streets.

but considering my size (big) and my age (older) I usually surprise people that I ride at all.


88MS88
Participant
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‘Aren’t you afraid of getting hit by a car?’

‘You ride in the snow?’

‘Are you crazy?’

Answer to all is ‘Yes!’


edmonds59
Participant
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#1 “Where do you ride?”

#2 “Do you wear spandex?”

#3 “Doesn’t that seat hurt?”


brian j
Participant
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“How do you ride up those hills?”

I must have smart/sensible people around me, as I’ve never, in 10 years of commuting, had someone ask if I was actually allowed to ride in the street.


Boazo
Participant
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A few weeks ago as I was starting up the hill by Mayview Hospital I noticed the car coming down in the other lane was starting to slow down. I thought they were going to ask directions, but she stops her car when we were beside each other and asked, “Why do you ride your bike so much ?” .


rsprake
Participant
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“Are bikes allowed to blow through red lights?”

My co-worker asked me that yesterday.

“How do you handle the cold?”

“How do you deal with the heat?”


lulu
Participant
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I fix bikes on the market (not in Pittsburgh area). Question I hear the most is:

Where can I buy a bike, I dont want a 50$ walmart one, and I can’t afford a 500$ bike shop one?


alnilam
Participant
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“Lance?”

Also, anyone else ever get little kids asking “Hey can I ride your bike?”?

But a big serious one is this: when I tell people they shouldn’t ride on the sidewalk (except maybe for a half-block jaunt if it’s called for), they ask why not, and why they should risk riding in the scary street.

I really think such a FAQ should address what in particular is bad about riding on the sidewalk a lot.


dwillen
Participant
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I rode to a wedding reception, walked in with my bike helmet, and some family of the couple asked me if I was “one of those assholes that got in their way”. It was an awkward meal sitting across from that. They were from rural PA, and had apparently tangled with some cyclists on their way to the reception.


Mick
Participant
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“Do you ride in the rain (snow, sleet, heat, hail, gloom of night….)?” “…in the winter?” “…when it’s cold?” “ALL THE WAY from Oakland to Forest Hill?”

The answer is left as an exercise for the reader.


Noah Mustion
Participant
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“Are bikes allowed to blow through red lights?”

A tough one to answer, and probably one that’s worth putting in the FAQ in question. Lolly I’d suggest putting all kinds of legal info up there. i.e. legality of taking the lane, illegality of riding downtown sidewalks, etc.


Noah Mustion
Participant
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dwillen-

Wow that’s nice. Goes to show how much cyclists evoke deep rage in people around here, if they can get ’bout it with you at their kid’s wedding reception.


dwillen
Participant
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I think they were a brother / sister-in law or something, they were my age or younger, and were otherwise soft spoken. Apparently seeing someone with a pedal operated machine induces some sort of crazy rage. I hope they didn’t ruin anyone’s day with whatever it was they did. It just shocked me that someone would say that to me before they even bothered to introduce themselves. I think they kind of felt stupid when I just stared at them in disbelief instead of laughing or whatever response it was they expected.

Other that that, people ask me how the cars treat me, and people I know ask me about flock rides. “hey I saw you riding around with a big group of people and some guy on a really large bike?!? what’s up with that?”


myddrin
Participant
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The question I get asked more than any other:

“Why?”

Then I launch into explaining that I find cycling now as much fun as I did when I was 9… and that during my first ride in 15 years I had a bunch of elderly people poking their heads out their doors and I screamed “WEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” as I plowed down Beechwood Blvd. :)

Followed by:

“I saw a guy/girl on a bike do <something legal, but probably not advised>, that’s not right, is it?” (Or “do you do that?”)


edmonds59
Participant
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dwillen, response: “Why, no, are you one of those idiot out-of-towners that doesn’t know how to drive in the city?”


Tabby
Participant
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how much did your bike cost? what kind of bike should I get? I don’t want to spend more than 200 dollars.

why don’t cyclists have insurance/registration?

how come cyclists don’t “share the road”? they should ride further right, pull over, ride on the sidewalk, etc.


JZ
Participant
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The most common thing that I get isn’t a question, it’s an unsolicited explanation of why the speaker doesn’t ride their bike to (insert location). I look at that as a minor positive; the speaker is assuming that *not* riding a bike is something to apologize for.

Questions that I get:

– What’s the best/bike-friendliest route from X to Y? For me, this usually seems to be someone in the south hills who would like to commute to/from the city by bike, but has issues with the roads (eg West Liberty).

– How long does it take you to get to/from work? When answering this, I usually emphasize the delta between biking and driving. For me, in both cases, the long pole is sitting at red lights. My bike computer tells me that ~50% of my trip time is spent with wheels not turning.

– What’s a good bike for me to buy?

– Don’t you think it’s wrong for cyclists to do X? X is usually run red lights or stop signs, ride on the sidewalk, etc.


mattre
Participant
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“Why?”

“How far do you ride?”

“How long does it take?”

“What kind of bike do you have?”

“I want to buy a bike but I don’t know anything. Where should I start?”

“Where can I take my old bike to be tuned up?”

“Where do you ride?”

“Where do you park?”

“You seriously rode in that?” (in reference to the weather)


Lolly
Participant
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These are great! Thanks and keep em coming if you have more.


edmonds59
Participant
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“You have how many bikes?!?”


Marko82
Participant
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A new one for me but I’ve been asked it twice recently – How fast can you go on that? My reply: uphill or downhill?


Mary
Participant
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“Do you arrive at work all hot and sweaty?”

Variations are, “Do you have a shower at work?” and “Do you pack a change of clothes?” Also, “What about your hair?” (Something tells me men don’t hear that last one as often.)

If I mention riding in Location X, I hear, “Is there a bike trail there?” or “I didn’t know you could get there on a trail.” These are instances where no trail was involved.

Standard road-riding questions are “Aren’t you afraid?” and “You don’t ride in the road, do you?”

A personal favorite: “Is your car not reliable?”


ejwme
Participant
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wow – most people don’t ask me questions beyond “You RODE a BICYCLE, HERE?” and “Do you need a ride home? You bike will fit in my trunk, right?”

I do get a lot of people telling me what they think of me, or of bicycling. We’ll skip the negatives. Most people claim they’d ride against traffic, salmon (and pedestrian) style, so they could see the cars coming at them in time to get out of the way – I’d love to see a “Why Salmoning Will Get You Killed” in the FAQ – maybe title it something more friendly-like. They don’t so much ask if that’s a good idea as tell me that’s what they’d do and then ignore my pleas that they never, ever, ever do that – it’s not a real worry because they usually start with “I’d never ride, but if I did…”.

Oh, I guess I also get a “Why do bike lanes matter so much?” Oh, and my favorite (and yes, most positive mention of cycling from my mother), “Bike lanes will happen when and where they are needed when enough people need them, if there’s no bike lane, there’s clearly no need for one” (i.e. why is it that YOU have to do anything about it?). I liked the blog answer to that one, but a condensed version could be cool.

I guess also “Is that SAFE?” (I respond “safer than me behind the wheel of a car.”)

I guess the last type of question is “You’re not one of those idiots who XXXXX…” And then they describe either a stereotype obnoxious hipster or messenger or lycra racer who breaks laws left and right and induces panic attacks in every driver they encounter. I take those with consideration – if I know the person I let them vent and sympathize with their frustration over idiots breaking the law and giving ME a bad rep. If I don’t know them, I typically return by asking them if they’re one of those idiots who constantly breaks the law while driving a car in similar fashion. Not very gracious, I know. But if someone asks me if I’m an idiot and I don’t know them, I’m typically feeling more defensive than gracious.

thank you Lolly :D


Mary
Participant
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ejwme just reminded me of questions I hear about bike lanes:

“Why are bike lanes so wide?”

“Bicycles don’t need *that* much space, do they?”

I’m pretty sure these comments were in reference to East Liberty Blvd., maybe also Wightman. No one has ever asked me that about Forbes.


dwillen
Participant
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“Why are bike lanes so wide?”

“Bicycles don’t need *that* much space, do they?”

This is the best idea I’ve ever heard. Maximum width of a motorized vehicle is 8.5 feet. Lets restripe all vehicle lanes to be that wide. I’ll take what is left over.


Mick
Participant
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“Bicycles don’t need *that* much space, do they?”

Well… They wouldn’t need that much space if people drove right, but as it is, the bikes really should have more space.”


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I prompt questions I like to answer, like: “Did you know the words ‘door’ and ‘taco’ are verbs?” …and then proceed to answer them. It always initiates a (usually) positive conversation.

Another one I like to prompt: “Did you know bikes -always- have a right to the full traffic lane?” This may start by passing by a “Share the Road” sign.


Mary
Participant
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It’s important to remember that not all questions are combative. Sure, some people are real jerks and are ready to start an argument.

Others are simply curious, or they haven’t been on a bike since they were kids. They don’t associate bikes with things like a full-time job or carrying home groceries.


ieverhart
Participant
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People often ask me if I want a ride home, having ridden my bike somewhere. I ask if they have a bike rack, and if they don’t, by the time I contemplate taking a wheel off, engineering the bike into their trunk, worrying about getting chain grease on their upholstery, I say “no thanks.”


Erica
Participant
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@ieverhart: for me, it’s more like this:

so basically:

Why do you ride in the snow?

A: Because it’s fun, more “grown up” than making snowmen, and also, bragging rights :)


Swalfoort
Participant
#

When on the bike, I mostly I get, “where are you coming from” or “where are you going to?” in terms of questions. Or I get statements, like “be careful out there” or “I know someone who (insert some terrible cycling related injusry) ….” My favorites are “you look like you are having fun” or “great day for a ride” when I am obviously commuting to work in the morning.

I get different questions when I am off the bike, like from co-workers who know I bike commute. Then it is mostly weather or time related.


Swalfoort
Participant
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@RF – but is it even more fun than making snow angels?


Erica
Participant
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I have not made a snow angle, probably in 10 years. Now, I have the overwhelming desire to do so. So maybe riding in the snow is on par with making snow angels, fun-wise.


superletour
Participant
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“How do you ride on those tires? They’re so thin!”

“What do you do if you get a flat?”

“You mean you ride in the road? With the cars?”

“Oh my god, how long does it take you to get here?”

(in regards to a <6 mile commute)

and, just for fun, “Look at that $^&$!@ ridin’ in daisy dukes!” I always ride in cutoffs in the summer…


Willie
Participant
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Over the summer a girl I worked with asked what was in my camelback bag when I got to work. I said water. She then told me she couldn’t ride a bike because of the hills and the fact that she would have a camelback filled with booze all the time.


superletour
Participant
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Camelback full of booze is an interesting idea.

I’ll never forget the time I did the GAP to Ohiopyle with my buddy and we just got wasted the entire time. It took us an entire day. I had the impression that it was a really, really hard ride until the next time I did it (sober) and got to Ohiopyle long before it was dark out…


edmonds59
Participant
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When I used to tour a lot I used to love conversations like this:

Someone from, say, Wyoming would ask “where yall from?”

“I’m from Ohio”

them; “you rode that thing all the way from Ohio?!?”

“Oh, no, I just rode from Oregon”

them; (silent, brain in lockdown)

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