Sometimes the most obvious of distractions are the ones least considered but when it comes to cycling, walking, or driving, however, eliminating them as best as possible would seem to be a good rule of thumb. Safer, walkable, livable streets - isn't that the goal?
I've composed a list of some things that were on my mind that sort of detract from that idea, whether intended or not. It isn't meant to call anyone out, but it was just something on my mind. Without further adieu:
The Top Five Worst Things You Can Do On Your Bike
1. Text. Last year, Philadelphia banned text messaging while driving, on one's motorcycle, while rollerblading and skateboarding. Lessening the distractions is the way to go, and I'll be the first to admit that when I was nineteen years old I was in an accident in part due to my cell phone. It happens. And when it does, if you're conscious enough to remember the accident, you'll feel like an idiot afterwards.
Also, I've almost been "walked into" by people who walk and text, which has proven more embarrassing for them than for myself.
2. Smoke a cigarette. Everyone has their needs, and needs 'need' to be met. Smoking is a loaded topic of conversation, but I'm going to allow myself a moment to say the following: seeing someone smoke on a cigarette is probably one of the silliest things I've seen (emphasis on "one of the"). Even if done so leisurely, bicycling is a cardiovascular exercise, which means you're using your heart and your lungs to effectively move oxygenated blood through your body. Props to you for being on the bicycle. As a suggestion, if only once out of how many times you find yourself on your bicycle, how about leaving the pack at home, trading it for water so as to enjoy the relatively clean Los Angeles air?
On the note of water...
3. Drink. Bad idea, and by that I mean anything with alcohol content. The last thing you should want while riding your bicycle is a DUI. Despite the ongoing debate as to whether or not bicycles are vehicles, the law in California is stated as such on none other than the website for the Department of Motor Vehicles. At the very least, this would do well to serve as a point of reference as to how bicycles should be operated, in this regard and in general. Bicyclists should adhere to the rules of the road. Even if on the sidewalk (something I don't encourage), you're riding with or alongside traffic in that capacity.
I mean, even pedestrians have to follow the rules of the road unless they would like to be run over. Pedestrians also can get cited for public intoxication. Why would a cyclist be exempt?
4. Tie your shoes. Especially when in motion. I often find myself asking how one even does that, even though I've seen the attempt many times. I'd personally be afraid of getting my lace stuck in the chain, then maybe bucking forward and rolling over myself. But that's probably just me.
5. Take off your sweater/shirt/etc. Actually, removing any article of clothing is probably not advised, especially if you wear glasses. What a mess. I'll extend this to apply to most anything you have to stop everything in order to do. This also goes to applying make-up and maybe eating. A granola bar, not so much. A double bacon cheeseburger, more likely than not.
Obviously some parts of this list are in jest and are fueled by a slightly irked personal opinion through observation, but never via a holier-than-thou mentality. How many times have you asked "why" and never received an answer?
Still, simply put, you'd be surprised at what things have been seen on the road - or maybe you wouldn't. It doesn't begin to cover half of what seems to be seen as exempt behavior merely because one isn't behind a wheel. There is more information out there to support the notion of riding safely and consciously than to support the notion that "I'm on a bicycle, who cares what I do?". The last thing the cycling community needs is another person to view someone as "just another cyclist" thinking they were above riding smart and with decency.
Photo via ftlauderdaleinjurylawyerblog.com