It's about the ways you use your bike.

Moments like these

In Washington DC on 11 May 2010 at 3:55 pm

Yesterday, I witnessed one of the most amazing things, and one of the reasons I just love the cycling community. The wind roared down the streets, threatening to blow over any biker who cornered too sharply. It was one of those windy days that add 30 minutes and 10 pounds of frustration to a morning ride—one on which you don’t so much spin as grind your way to work.

So in the afternoon, while walking down Connecticut near Dupont Circle, I noticed something strange. About 50ft away I saw a guy ride up on his Peugot, dismount and lean it against a tree. He took a couple cautious steps back and adjusted his bike’s perch against the wind, then strode over to a green Schwinn Collegiate lying on its side, still locked to a signpost with a standard cable-combo lock.

(Side note: I never like to do this. If I lock up to a sign post, I always use a U-lock. A college girlfriend of mine had her bike similarly locked to a post with a cable. All the thieves had to do was back their pickup truck up to the post, and simply lift her bike the 12ft. in the air, up and over the sign and into the bed of the getaway vehicle. Lesson 1: U-locks are the best for a reason. Lesson 2: make sure the sign post is tall enough or is topped with some obstruction like a fairly large sign, not just a no parking notice.)

Not the one in the wind, but similar.

Anyway, the guy approaches the Schwinn and lifts it into the air. I immediately started watching him quite closely, because like I said, I’ve seen this kind of thing before…so I thought. Bike in arms, he rights it onto its wheels again, walks it around to the other side of the post, extends the kick stand and sets it down. I saw him test the wind, adjust the bike and give it a good shake and a lean. Not quite satisfied, he takes the cable and wraps it once or twice around the handlebars. After another shake-and-lean test, he takes a step back, gives it look, and turns around to lock his Peugot to the tree against which he’d earlier leaned it. He pocketed his keys, and walked inside the building.

I was simply stunned. I thought I was witnessing the beginning of a theft, and prepared to stop the stranger. Turns out, he saw a bike that was not his fall victim to the pressures of the wind, and decided to help. He righted it, positioned it into the wind so that the pressure would tend to stabilize the bike, and then adjusted the cable to hold it tighter still against the elements–before securing his own bike.

Moments like these make me supremely happy to be a cyclist. How many times have you ignored a car alarm, or rubbernecked at an auto accident without taking action? These traits don’t seem to manifest in the cycling community. We’ve all felt the sting of a desperate punk with a bic pen or pair of bolt cutters, and I’d wager any of us would do our part to save another such misfortune, or even the little sadness from seeing your ride on the ground. I’d like to think that the altruism that the stranger on the Peugot showed is indicative of a larger, more pervasive sense of camaraderie within our community.

So, hats off to you, Peugot Guy.

Have you seen any similar acts of bicycle kindness? Share your stories in the comments. I’m interested to hear.

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  1. Great to see the cycling kindness. In my opinion, I would think that we, as cyclists, are much more loyal and considerate of our fellow bikers and I’m sure great things like this happen quite often. I don’t have a story to share with you today, but I’m going to keep my eyes open and I’ll report back with a cycling kindness story for you.

    Darryl

    • Hey thanks, Darry. I appreciate your support, and the knowledge that others like this are out there. Moments like these really just make me smile.

  2. It’s all about community, brother. I almost always get a smile from other cyclists as we cross paths. I’m much happier since I sold my truck. Alexandria is much prettier as 5 mph than 35 mph.

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