City Questions

We’re all familiar with drivers getting frustrated sharing the road with cyclists. However, sometimes the frustration gives way to another frustrating behavior. That of asking questions. When I’m on my bike, drivers seem to find me very approachable when they need help with something.


Apparently, I am the person to ask. I don’t know why but they assume I am in the know and can help them navigate their troubled city life… I guess urban cyclist means urban expert?


However, I’m sometimes uncomfortable thrown into the role of city guide. And that’s when I start messing with them.


Which is entertaining. But sometimes I wish they’d ask me a question I can actually answer.


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  • Mirko von Berner March 1, 2012   Reply →

    Artist! Genius!

  • Angelo March 1, 2012   Reply →

    I have the same thoughts when motorists ask me for directions to the Interstate or to gas stations – shouldn’t they be asking someone that drives?

  • John h March 1, 2012   Reply →

    Nothing says “local” like a bike. Oh, looks like they named their car, Tank. Yes you can park there but its $5. LOL

  • Invisible Visible Man March 1, 2012   Reply →

    I’ve noticed this too, in London. People seem to regard a cyclist as a two-wheeled streetmap and ask me for directions to all kinds of places. At least it means we seem approachable. But it can be a little frustrating to be approached for directions to an obscure pub when one’s sitting at traffic lights keen to get going as quickly as possible so as not to get swamped by the motor traffic waiting behind.
    All the best,

  • rob Kristoff March 1, 2012   Reply →

    I like this one. I can relate. Great as always.

  • Megan Ramey March 1, 2012   Reply →

    my favorite – where’s the cheapest parking around here?

    On the other hand, I love when autos or pedestrians ask me directions. I have no problem being seen as an expert navigator and will go out of my way to help.

    I also like spotting the disheveled or confused tourists and giving them tips. My grandma in Wisconsin would be proud.

  • John Romeo Alpha March 1, 2012   Reply →

    Cyclists and pedestrians I will always help, and hopefully chat with a bit. Motorists I will also help, for the low low price of $26.95, exact change only, accuracy of information not guaranteed.

  • DAN March 1, 2012   Reply →

    Ahahahahaha! I like it.

  • anniebikes March 1, 2012   Reply →

    My husband and I used to get these questions all the time when we were loaded with touring gear. Come on! We wouldn’t be touring in our home town…so it always struck me as odd. I’d like to think it happens because we are approachable on a bike, and all the driver has to do is roll down his window. In other words, they’re lazy.

  • Julie March 1, 2012   Reply →

    People act like I’m so stupid because I don’t know the car parking laws in NYC. I really have no idea! They sometimes act like they don’t believe me, or I’m withholding the info to be mean.

  • Moopheus March 1, 2012   Reply →

    Closest place to get gas? Usually there’s a burrito place nearby.

    • MoBike March 1, 2012  


  • Steve March 1, 2012   Reply →

    So looking forward to Burdick’s opening their café, since the new location is just a block from work. I’d gladly let people know where they can find the best drinking chocolate in the area.

  • Danielle J March 1, 2012   Reply →

    I get asked for directions while on my bike all the time… Not so hard when at a light but a bit tricky mid ride!

  • liz March 1, 2012   Reply →

    I’m always getting asked for directions when I’m stopped at a light! It really bugs me – if I’m waiting for the lights to change, I don’t want to seem rude by riding off mid-sentence when the lights change, but I can’t really pull over and keep helping them!

  • Ethan Fleming March 1, 2012   Reply →

    My favorite dumb question a driver has asked me was…Do you know where I can find a parking space in walking distance of Fenway that costs no more than $10?

  • GRJim March 1, 2012   Reply →

    Huh. I thought giving directions was part of the social contract. At the very least, some time you might be in the same position.

    • Ethan Fleming March 1, 2012  

      Im nice enough to give directions as often as possible. I like to hope it makes a contribution to resolving the conflict between annoying drivers and bicyclers. But I find it fascinating that some drivers assume that all bicyclers know their way EVERYWHERE in the city.

  • I get it too, the funniest is when I’m miles from home and have to tell them “I don’t actually know this area very well,” gets them very confused.
    It doesn’t bother me much on a casual ride or commute, but people do it when I’m running as well, maybe they assume that just because I’m moving so slowly I’m not actually in the middle of a workout 😉

  • John March 1, 2012   Reply →

    I second (third, etc.) the fact that they assume you must be a local. But actually, I range further than they probably assume I do, so I’m not always sure where that little residential street they’re asking about is. (This would be doubly true in Boston!)

    I also think the fact that we and pedestrians are so approachable by motorists is just the flip side of how UNapproachable their fellow motorists are to them, with everyone cocooned in their own world of steel. This speaks to how alienating the use of cars is, and how much that has broken down the social fabric of streets in the last 100 years.

  • Invisible Visible Man March 1, 2012   Reply →

    This happens to me in London – and, yes, people are resistant to the idea that my only detailed knowledge of an area might be the path of London Cycle Network route 23. They assume one’s a walking streetmap.
    It’s sometimes nice. I once even gave a confused motorist a battered old London cycling map to help her to find her way. But it can be a problem if the questioners don’t sense that I’m carefully watching for a red light to change so that I can get away fast and not get crushed by the following traffic.

  • Don March 1, 2012   Reply →

    When riding around San Jose, people kept asking me directions to the interstates. All I could think was, oh, there was an obstacle I had to get around, but beats me how you’d get on it.

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