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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  • Psy March 1, 2012   Reply →

    I get this all the time, and try to help when I can. I assume other people think that cyclists are approachable because “anyone crazy enough to bike must know they’re way around.” They look at me like I’m crazy if I tell them I don’t know the area, just passing through!

    I always am worried when people ask about parking though. I live in an area where the parking laws are different from month to month, and I don’t want to be responsible for someone getting a ticket because I don’t know the laws.

  • Invisible Visible Man March 2, 2012   Reply →

    Apologies for having posted roughly the same thing several times earlier. It didn’t come up right away, so I thought something had gone wrong.

    Massive etiquette fail, I known.


  • Lee Hollenbeck March 2, 2012   Reply →

    If they have NY plates , I give them wrong directions. Kind of mean, but they are in Red Sox nation.

  • Lauren M.F-E March 3, 2012   Reply →

    This totally happens to me all the time! My favorite is when people (acquaintances included) ask me how to get to the interstate, which to me is merely an obstacle to ride over or under at various points in the week.

  • Vocus Dwabe March 4, 2012   Reply →

    “I’m sorry, but you’ve chosen a hopelessly bad place to be starting from” is always a good answer if your interlocutor has been rather curt. Another favourite of mine with rural drivers of ostentatiously large SUVs is to say “I could give you a route: but the lanes are too narrow and there’s a weak bridge halfway.”

  • Ben March 5, 2012   Reply →

    I think more than the locality assumption is the simple fact that there are no walls around us as we ride, making it easier to talk to us than a motorist closed up in his or her vehicle.

    • Vocus Dwabe March 7, 2012  

      They ask us because they sense dimly that cyclists are people of above-average intelligence with fully oxygenated brains, alert and fully aware of their surroundings because they have to be in order to survive at all.

      The amount of spatial awareness necessary to drive a car is quite frighteningly low. Every few months now in the UK we hear stories of SatNav systems malfunctioning with the result that within a few minutes a vast pile of vehicles has accumulated at the end of some quiet suburban cul-de-sac which the drivers were led to believe was the access road for the M4 motorway. There have also been cases of motorists being directed by their GPS onto the wrong carriageway and driving for miles quite unable to work out why everyone is swerving and crashing into the barriers to avoid them. Cocooned in the illusory safety of their metal boxes, they just don’t seem to have that cyclist’s acute sense of er, something not quite right here…

  • Ethan Fleming March 29, 2012   Reply →

    Another problem with drivers asking for directions is that sometimes the way to get to a location by bike is different than if you go there by car. Especially due to all the one way streets and trails that bikes can use that cars can’t.

  • Ethan Fleming April 20, 2012   Reply →

    BTW…..Piece of advice to drivers…..Never ask a cyclist where the nearest gas station is.

  • K October 21, 2012   Reply →

    You’re a genius.

  • jon February 8, 2013   Reply →

    My theory is that cyclists are more approachable than drivers because we are not sitting in a steel and glass isolation tank.

  • todd February 8, 2013   Reply →

    O, I laughed. I do this too. I feel a little bit ashamed, usually, like I’m going to upset the Bicycle Normative movement with peevish snark. But you… well, you look better, and i can’t even draw. Rock on.

  • Teri May 8, 2014   Reply →

    “Where’s the closest place to get on the highway?”
    “Mmm, not sure, I am not allowed on that road. I could probably suggest a more scenic route though!”

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