Bicycling 101

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grant Petersen, founder and owner of Rivendell Bicycle Works and author of Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike, discusses the imminent launch of the New York bikeshare program and offers his take on how and why to ride.


Grant Petersen

Comments [67]

Julie from Massachusetts

On the great helmet debate..... It does not just depend on traffic conditions and careless drivers. My sister was riding down a hill on a paved road when a deer ran out and she T- boned it! She went flying over the deer, cracked her helmet and still sustained inter cranial hemoraging.....she lost her sense of smell, from the sudden jolt on her head, however she still has her life, thanks to that helmet.
Our town just lost a 19 year old boy in a traffic accident, because he was not wearing a helmet that would have saved his life, who by yhe way, worked at a bike shop & was an intelligent teen. (he already attained a 2 yr degree and was to continue college). Turns out the driver of the car was found NOT at fault... I.e not a careless driver.
I'm sure you may not think it will happen to you, but what about the people you leave behind that care about you?

Aug. 12 2012 09:00 AM
Malcolm from NYC

A short segment like this is not going to give a clear picture of the guest's philosophy. Grant is a thoughtful person and his key message is that a bicycle is a tool that people use for multiple purposes but many people are heavily influenced into buying an inappropriate bicycle by the industry because racing has influenced it to far great an extent. I'm sure Grant would like to sell more Rivendell's ( I own one) but if you read more closely he's advocating riding bikes you can just get on and pedal without dressing up in any special gear, fancy bikes or not.

The helmet debate is a red herring. If you feel safer with one on then wear one, if not don't. I wear mine sometimes and sometimes I don't. It depends on how I feel about road conditions, the traffic and the attitude of the drivers and pedestrians around me.

Jul. 25 2012 10:59 PM
Dale from Atlanta GA

For Edward (Jul. 23 2012 11:53 AM) and others with sciatica and back pain. The solution for me was to improve posture in everything I do, including cycling. Maintaining an upright posture on a transport bike is unlikely to cause problems, but if you want to go fast then this article really helps avoid hurting yourself:

Jul. 25 2012 10:55 PM
Eurodude from Old Europe

On our side of the big pond, nearly no one commutes with a helmet on. And no, we´re not suicidal. And no, there is no "cyclist´s Armaggedon".
And we just don´t understand your obsession with helmets...

Get a grip, people. It´s stupidity and cars that kill cyclists, not helmetless riding.

Jul. 25 2012 06:31 PM
Dave from The Seventh Level of Hell

I find it surprising that there are so many people that think it is a death sentence to ride a bike without a helmet. If you fall off of your bike and hit your head leisurely riding to the store you are doomed anyway. Sure, you can be hit by a car, but it isn't going to hurt any more than if you were walking. If you want to wear a helmet to ride, or even to ascend a flight of stairs, feel free to do so; but don't pretend someone is suicidal because because they think they can safely navigate the two mile trip to the coffee shop.
As for the interviewee.... Blinking lights a death-beacons? Helmets make you feel invincible? Clip-less pedals are useless? I wonder if this guy has ridden a bike before. I have an eighty watt headlight on my motorcycle, and people still don't see me... I have a hard time believing my static, 3-LED light is going to attract much attention.

Jul. 25 2012 05:09 PM
A +

Grant arrogant? Nope. Sure of himself, sure. Arrogant? Not the Grant I have known personally for well over ten years. He's a super nice guy who would do anything for anyone and go out of his way NOT to take the credit or get the kudos, accolades, strokes.

He's a guy concerned with others. He's not afraid to be direct, that is not the same thing as arrogant.

Jul. 25 2012 08:32 AM

Why do I consistently find you so arrogant....both in your writing in the Reader, your books and now hearing you on radio? Your obsession with weight etc is sooooooooooo very offensive. I love the bikes, but you would be best served by having some sort of PR person that could guide you, particularly in the area of you arrogant communication style.

Jul. 24 2012 06:53 PM
Rick from ATL

To Jeff from Park Slope:

"Different people need different bikes and for different things. For commuting short distances, mountain bikes are more stable and more upright. For fitness nothing beats a road bike... Why limit bike choices?"

This was my view, not anymore. The biggies in the bicycle industry produce/market bicycles that limit riders' choices, and not the other way around. It's the rare rider that needs the specialized item, not the norm: if you race, by all means get one. But if you just need one bike, get one that does more than one thing. There are bikes you can ride for fitness, commute on, go in the dirt, gravel, whatever. Rivendell makes one. So does Surly. You shouldn't need a quiver.

Jul. 24 2012 04:27 PM
JB from Nanny state

OMG...we better call Amsterdam and tell them they are all pedaling toward certain death. Google "Amsterdam cyclists" images and I dare you to find one non-racer wearing a helmet. Wearing a helmet is a personal choice.

Jul. 24 2012 03:36 PM
Glenn from New York

Unfortunate that this has devolved into a helmet debate. How about the core message: Riding a bike is simpler than it is made out to be. Just ride. Does an eight year old "clip out" to dump her bike and jump on the swing?

Jul. 24 2012 11:43 AM
Paige from Walnut Creek

Grant is my little brother. Be nice.

Jul. 24 2012 02:16 AM
h, from Queens

I've had three crashes on my bicycle. I've twice locked up my front wheel while panic stopping for jaywalkers (once on a piece of cardboard litter, once on a gritty surface). I did not hit my head either time. The third crash happened while I was trying to duck under a low tree branch and failed to get low enough because I didn't realize how big my head was with the helmet on. So that crash was actually caused by a helmet.
While I don't think it hurts to wear a helmet, I do believe that by focusing so much on whether people are wearing helmets (and condemning those that choose not to wear them), we're losing sight of the greater goal. If we can get more people cycling regardless of whether they're wearing helmets, the roads will be safer for all cyclists.

Jul. 23 2012 10:50 PM
Andrea from Manhattan

I'm really angry that Brian is allowing people to believe that it's okay to not wear a helmet. When you are in a bike crash, your head may never touch the ground but you will sure feel the road rash burn for days and even possibly weeks. Even with a helmet on, I can't imagine that anyone would think it's okay to get into a crash. I find it hard to believe that people will be riskier bikers simply because they are wearing helmets, at least not the typical recreational or commuter biker. As for the concern that automobile drivers will drive closer to you if you are wearing a helmet, I suppose you just need to choose your routes wisely and try to spend as little time along side cars as possible.

Jul. 23 2012 10:03 PM

And as for helmets, I think Grant makes a LOT of sense, even if I do not necessarily draw the same final conclusion as him - I wear a helmet every time I get on a bike, fully aware of the limitations, whereas he clearly chooses the wind in his hair much of the time, a risk I personally would rather not take and never encourage others to.
But for all those of you shout "WEAR A HELMET", you surely have to also accept that cyclists should be aware that while a helmet MAY help in a serious crash, it is far from a guarantee. Helmets need to get better, you need to make sure it fits and is fully strapped on (Grant has a section on "your helmets not a bonnet" in his book), and, the crux of his argument, you should ride with the same caution as having no protection - "wear the helmet and forget it's on" as Grant puts it. He does NOT encourage everyone to abandon helmets, just wants to raise the awareness that you can't ride riskier just because you have one on - you have no idea just how much it will help at crunch-time.

Jul. 23 2012 09:35 PM

Actually, $1.050 only gets you a frame and fork at Rivendell - you'd be hard pressed to get change out of $2,500 for a full bike. They are beautiful, absolute works of art, no detail overlooked and should absolutely last you your lifetime. But those looking to 'Just Ride' will probably have to at least start out looking elsewhere ...

Jul. 23 2012 09:20 PM

Personally, I love my head and wear a helmet (almost) every time I ride. But I think the fixation on helmets as THE key to safety is not beneficial overall. Often proselytizing on helmets (which impact one person) displaces instruction in safe riding practices (which impacts everyone). Helmets have gotten much better and will continue to do so. As they do, more people will opt to wear them. This is especially true of younger generations that grow up seeing them more as the norm.Just look at the number of people that choose to wear helmets on the ski slopes vs. twenty years ago. No one is telling them they have to wear them.

Mandatory helmet laws serve mainly as a deterrent to getting more riders on the street. The best thing for increasing safety is to increase the number of riders. This will help sensitize drivers to our presence and reinforce the efforts to build more and better infrastructure. If some people choose not to protect their own noggins, let them.

Jul. 23 2012 05:57 PM

If you think a helmet is going to save your life then you're already in trouble.

First, you need to educate yourself on how much objective protection a cycling helmet provides and the standards to which they are tested. That alone should revise your thinking.

Second, you need to look at the research into the measured effects of helmet use on the rate of brain injuries among bicyclists. That data will revise your thinking some more.

Helmets do not reduce brain injuries by 80% as helmet makers used to claim. In fact, there is just not a lot of strong evidence that they reduce brain injuries. But there is a lot of marketing hype and urban myth about helmets. cyclehelmets dot org has a lot of the research on this topic for convenient perusal.

You want to wear a helmet, be my guest. I'd just advise being realistic and fact-based about what they do. I have heard many breathless claims about how "my helmet saved my life," usually in crashes that barely even scuffed up the helmet. If your helmet really saved your life, it was destroyed in the process. I'm not about to deny that a helmet *could* save your life, because I think that is possible; however, of the past 20 bicycle fatalities where I live 18 of them were wearing helmets. Some of them were people I knew, all were brothers and sisters of the wheel. I'm sad for all of them and their families. Wearing a helmet didn't save them, unfortunately.

What will have the best chance of saving your life is your vigilance as a cyclist and the skills you develop at bike handling and reading traffic. I've been riding bikes for 3,000-6,000 miles a year for 46 years in urban, suburban and rural areas- the one collision I have had with a car was 100% my fault (and no, my helmet did not save my life- that was in 1973 before helmets were a widely marketed phenomenon and I wasn't wearing one. I didn't get any sort of head injury despite being tossed across the road). I raced from 1992-2000 and wore a helmet then because it was required by the rules, and in all of my crashes in races (3) my helmet never got more than a scuff.

You're much more likely to get a brain injury as a pedestrian, from a gunshot wound, assault, stroke, a car accident, falling off a ladder or in your bathroom than from riding a bike. You're also (according to the Minnesota Department of Health data) more likely to get a brain injury mountain biking than riding on the streets of America. That doesn't mean the risk is zero, but it's not as dangerous as many of these breathless comments would have you believe. If it was that dangerous, no one in their right mind would ride a bike and we wouldn't be having these discussions.

Jul. 23 2012 05:51 PM
grant from walnut creek

Wow, this is quite a start to my monday morning. I'm Grant--the guy on the receiving end of all this. Clearly, helmets can save lives, but to deny that safety equipment doesn't make us more likely to engage in activities we wouldn't do without it is ... not exactly right. If you regard bicycle riding as dangerous and then don a helmet to protect you, that is kind of like what I'm saying. Now, if the safety gear is close to 100 percent protective, then all's cool. But (as I say in Just Ride), the tests that helmets pass are more designed to pass helmets than to protect heads. It is hard to tell the whole story in a short radio spot, and of course I understand how nutty some of this sounds, on the surface. I will send a free book to the first ten anti-fans who contact me at 800 345 3918. You may burn it or read it, but I will do this. But it has to be by phone. And you don't get a free book if you LIKE me and agree with me---only if you don't.

Jul. 23 2012 04:04 PM
Grant from walnut creek

Wow, this is quite a start to my monday morning. I'm Grant--the guy on the receiving end of all this. Clearly, helmets can save lives, but to deny that safety equipment doesn't make us more likely to engage in activities we wouldn't do without it is ... not exactly right. If you regard bicycle riding as dangerous and then don a helmet to protect you, that is kind of like what I'm saying. Now, if the safety gear is close to 100 percent protective, then all's cool. But (as I say in Just Ride), the tests that helmets pass are more designed to pass helmets than to protect heads. It is hard to tell the whole story in a short radio spot, and of course I understand how nutty some of this sounds, on the surface. I will send a free book to the first ten anti-fans who contact me at 800 345 3918. You may burn it or read it, but I will do this. But it has to be by phone. And you don't get a free book if you LIKE me and agree with me---only if you don't.

Jul. 23 2012 04:03 PM
Grant from walnut creek

Wow, this is quite a start to my monday morning. I'm Grant--the guy on the receiving end of all this. Clearly, helmets can save lives, but to deny that safety equipment doesn't make us more likely to engage in activities we wouldn't do without it is ... not exactly right. If you regard bicycle riding as dangerous and then don a helmet to protect you, that is kind of like what I'm saying. Now, if the safety gear is close to 100 percent protective, then all's cool. But (as I say in Just Ride), the tests that helmets pass are more designed to pass helmets than to protect heads. It is hard to tell the whole story in a short radio spot, and of course I understand how nutty some of this sounds, on the surface. I will send a free book to the first ten anti-fans who contact me at 800 345 3918. You may burn it or read it, but I will do this. But it has to be by phone. And you don't get a free book if you LIKE me and agree with me---only if you don't.

Jul. 23 2012 04:01 PM
Patrick Moore from Everywhere

Quote: "Steve from Rockville Centre, NY
Per Rivendell's web site, their cheapest bike is $1,050! So what's the point here?"

The point is that they do not stint on quality or design and that they pay their staff and contractors living wages and fair prices. In my experience, the prices are well worth the value received.

I don't buy everything Rivendell says or produces, but I like them enough to have owned four of their bikes (three customs) over the almost-18 years since the company started as well as tons of kit.

Jul. 23 2012 03:18 PM
Don from Ocean Grove, NJ

As a bicyclist and motorcycle rider, I stronly disagree with Mr. Peterson's opinion that the use of safety equipment will promote unsafe riding habits. If anything, putting on my helmet and protective gear reinforces the vulnerability of two wheels competing with four. ATGATT (All the gear, all the time!)


Jul. 23 2012 01:23 PM
Jack from Highland Park NJ

Blinky lights attract drunk drivers? Who is this guy? And there are many reasons to use toe clips loosely in a manner that doesn't hinder your ability to quickly remove your foot from the pedals. If this guy can't think of one, he's actually giving people bad advice. Very poor choice of guests, Brian Lehrer Show.

Jul. 23 2012 01:02 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

sandra - you don't mention what kind of bike you're riding, including whether it has upright or dropped geometry, so what can be recommended for you from afar might be limited in efficacy. i don't know if i have the same overall build as you, but i do have wider hips, so here's my experience and reco:

when i rode a road bike, i had a selle italia cutout seat. it had an overall narrow profile, but was hollowed at the center, and was reasonably comfortable. when one is bent over on a road or mountain bike, there is more contact with the most sensitive part of your pelvic region with the seat, so there's no "ideal" seat--just a few variations on this same, cutout theme, which many men find more comfortable, as well.

if you ride an upright bike, i would recommend a sprung brooks saddle. it is the equivalent of sitting in a springy sling, such that hitting a bump barely registers in that sensitive area. if you condition the leather and protect it from rain, it will treat you right for the life of your bike.

most of all, i'd recommend you test drive a couple of saddles before you make a decision.

enough with the screaming caps and punctuation, people! most of us will simply skip over these unnecessarily embellished comments.

Jul. 23 2012 12:51 PM
Rich in Yonkers

Never, never ride without a helmet, no matter how slowly you're traveling. I was involved in a hit-and-rum in April; sustained three fractures to my pelvis and one to my clivicle and I was travelling at around 10 mph. The helmet, however, probably saved my life; it was cracked, as were my glasses, but I never lost consciousness.. I even broke down and got a taillight.

Jul. 23 2012 12:25 PM

Wearing a helmet makes you drive more recklessly, Realy ?, I don't think so!

Jul. 23 2012 12:20 PM
sandra from bronx

I've had 3 major spills:
Once on the road going PRETTY FAST when a car blindsided me.
Once in Colorado going MEDIUM SPEED when I hit my head on some VERY hard rocks.
Once in The Bronx going VERY SLOWLY when a I hit a pebble at a funny angle.
Each time I was wearing my helmet and that is probably why I'm sitting here now able to type this post!!!

WEAR YOUR HELMETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jul. 23 2012 12:19 PM
Mike In Bklyn from Brooklyn

Boy there was a lot of misleading info in this segment.

On clips and pulling up on the pedals-- anyone who tries to pedal a bike out of the saddle comes quickly to appreciate clips. And I don't know what kind of riding this quy has done, but he should try climbing a 9% grade hill and then tell me whether could do so without pulling up on pedals.

Handlebars at equal to the height of the seat -- while not the worst setup, try riding in that position for a long time and you surely will end up with neck pain and, ironically, back pain. I have seen people with their stems extended to chest height, which is inherently dangerous, has it reducing control of the front wheel - the most important part of the bike.

Cycling and the Tour De France -- People don't need to model racers, but if the TDF inspire and encourages people to cycle that is good. Do they need to buy $5000 carbon fiber bike and $1000 kits to do so, no. But they should buy whatever bike they can afford, and more importantly, take the bike to a bike shop that knows what they are doing and get properly fit for it. This way they won't end up with damaged knees, backs, and necks.

Cycling is one of the best ways to gain and maintain physical fitness. Many avoid it because they encounter discomforts they shouldn't have because of poor setup.

Bike on!!!

Jul. 23 2012 12:14 PM


Finding a great saddle can be frustrating and often multiple attempts are required. There are many factors, but the width between your sit-bones are perhaps the most important.

Take a look at this then go see an expert...

Jul. 23 2012 12:13 PM
Jen from brooklyn

So happy to hear Grant Petersen on this show! I've test-ridden a Rivendell- a truly amazing ride! Lack of indoor/secure parking in NYC is the only thing that keeps me from owning one. The prices reflect the fine quality of these bikes, which are built from the best components and materials. They last a lifetime, which is not true of most of the mass-produced junk sold these days. I have the utmost respect for Grant Petersen and his work. He has a refreshingly unpretentious attitude about riding.

Jul. 23 2012 12:12 PM
Sam from Manhattan

As a "racer" I can assure you that most of "us" do it for fitness and have very few locations in the city where we can ride for extended periods of time without stopping at every stoplight; Central Park and Prospect Park are basically the only two. As well, as a majority we abide by traffic laws and due to the speed that we travel at we are even more alert and attentive than your average delivery boy, unobservant tourist and pedestrian walking down the middle of the bike lane.

There are many different types of cyclists in the city, we all can coexist peacefully as long as we remain attentive and ignorant people like your guest do not wage a crusade against one type.

And not wearing a helmet is idiotic, no matter how safe you think you ride you cannot anticipate the moves of every crazy cab driver.

Jul. 23 2012 12:09 PM
sandra from bronx

BTW, I am NOT going to throw away my helmet!!! I use it in ALL weather and on ALL rides!!!

I also LOVE my blinky lite--they help ME to see the biker in front of me VERY CLEARLY.
Grant's advice was truly NOT for a big city like NYC, but for a low volume town like Walnut Creek.
(which I have visited several times.)

It was just a catchy way of introducing him on air! : (

Jul. 23 2012 12:08 PM
Tony from Brooklyn

If you are just commuting about town (quick hop to the grocery) and never expect to speed above 15 mph, I don't see a reason for helmets. But if you are covering some serious ground, traveling at 17-25 mph along the highway or more downhill then helmets are essential. Lights are essential! If you are traveling in traffic and are planning to cross streets, the more lights, the better. I just rode down the West Side Greenway last night and was surprised by how many cyclists were riding without and was completely invisible at times. I liken the racing bike gear to track suits. You dont need the matching sweat suit and sneakers for a quick lap around the park but if it gets you motivated so be it. I recently upgraded from my old steel beater bike I've been using for the past 30 years to an all carbon bike and the difference is startling. Its easier to maintain a 18 mph speed with the same 14 mph effort on the old bike and climbing up huge hill are much easier. My average trip besides a 10 mile commute are 50 miles

Jul. 23 2012 12:07 PM
Morgan from Manhattan

I cannot disagree with Grant Petersen more. Please wear your helmets and blinky lights are more visible. Show me the proof that drunks hit blinking lights more than steady lights. Please. I'm a professional cyclist twice over and I have been in an accident in which I woke from unconsciousness in the back of an ambulance and I'm glad I had my helmet on. The medic said I might have been in a hearse otherwise. I have a friend who worked ER in Bellevue and he said the worst things he saw were cyclists and roller bladers without helmets. And I do pull my pedal up with my clipless shoes. Who is this guy?

Jul. 23 2012 12:04 PM

Completely disagree with the guest. (First let me just say--I think it's challenging that you have a guest who is from California -- why not get a bicycle expert or a shop from NYC- such as Bicycle Habitat that's been around for many years in Manhattan and now another store in Brooklyn.)
But, the main disagreement that I have is that the guest clearly doesn't know what cyclist are like in NYC. There is a huge amount of bicycle riders in NYC who do NOT wear helmets but who zip around traffic, all over the place. I do not have statistics, but I can tell you as a long time bicycle commuter that it is the riders without helmets that I see zipping around quickly and rather risky-ly, rather than the riders with helmets. I hate to say it but there are many young, hipsters who really must think they look pretty darn cute in their racing bike with no helmet and all I have to say is I want to make a sign that says "Too Cool for a Helmet?! THINK AGAIN." Not to mention the amount of white ghost bikes around (many in Brooklyn) where bicyclists have been killed. Come on! Riding with a helmet in NYC should be law. It's like driving with a seatbelt. Yes, you're in a vehicle, so ride safely as possible! Please people. Get with it. Wear a helmet and ride safely.

Jul. 23 2012 12:04 PM
sandra from the bronx

I didn't ask my question quite correctly on air:
"For a female with wide hips what is the most comfortable seat shape that reduces chafing the the front?"

I was recommended to buy a narrower seat, but the one I already have is VERY comfy in the back.
Any ladies have experience with this??? Thanks! : )

Jul. 23 2012 12:03 PM


As a rider with 10s of thousands of miles behind me... I would say that you normally would want a high (hard) gear down hill. You need to control your bike. Often that means slowing down, but sometimes it means speeding up. If you are moving downhill in a low (easy) gear, will will not be able to accelerate if needed.

Jul. 23 2012 12:01 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I HATE the electric bicycles.

I was startled when a delivery guy riding an electric bike on the SIDEWALK in the UWS way too fast.

That guy ruins bike riding, in NYC for everyone, perpetuates the negative impression of bike riding on the sidewalk.

Jul. 23 2012 12:00 PM

Zack: Amsterdam is a city with massive protected bike lane infrastructure, and a culture with more bike commuters than cars. I'm not saying they shouldn't also wear helmets, but I think the game there is rigged in favor of cyclist safety: unlike say, NYC where riding on pothole-marked streets, short-stopping cabs and thoughtless pedestrians (not to mention other cyclists) makes crashing an all-too-real possibility. Helmet up.

Jul. 23 2012 12:00 PM
trevorcoates from nyc

I was hoping you were going to discuss, with respect to *racing* attitudes, that the westside greenway has been taken over by totally aggressive racy-types who think they own the road, and as such ruin the greenway as a practical conduit for people who want to use it for *transportation* and not ego-fashion statement with their stupid silks and expensive bikes...

Jul. 23 2012 12:00 PM
Amy from Manhattan

You can have a concussion w/out a skull fracture. Just because you don't crack your head instead of the helmet doesn't mean you don't have a serious injury after a bike accident.

Jul. 23 2012 11:59 AM

This guy is a threat to public health and safety. Every assertion he makes is his own speculation with without any supporting evidence or statistics. Why would anybody pay attention to this goof-ball?

Jul. 23 2012 11:58 AM
joan from e village

Love all the new bike lanes but with so LITTLE enforcements -- regarding both bikes and CARS, they are almost more dangerous than riding in the street.

Jul. 23 2012 11:57 AM

I almost always wear my helmet, but when I was in Amsterdam last summer, they laughed me out of wearing one. I didn't see any helmet there. Can we learn something?

Jul. 23 2012 11:57 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

A blinking light uses half the power over time. Very little power is used when the light is off and the most when illuminated.

The batteries will last approx twice as long when flashing.

Jul. 23 2012 11:57 AM
Mim from NY

I agree with his feeling-too-safe point- drivers often drive too fast in ice and snow apparently in the belief that the ABS brakes compensate for the lack of friction

Jul. 23 2012 11:57 AM


What about a recumbent?

Jul. 23 2012 11:56 AM
James from Tribeca

What about noseless seats? Do they really protect the nerves and blood vessels of the perineum and protect our privates (for men and women)?

Jul. 23 2012 11:55 AM
charlene from Boston, MA

oh jeez, just wear your helmets, folks.

Jul. 23 2012 11:55 AM
Mireille from Brooklyn, NY

Can you please answer this question: When you go down a mountain should you put the bike in high or low gear? My husband and I had a terrible discussion about this.

Jul. 23 2012 11:55 AM
Jeff Park Slope

I ride more than most commuters drive and have been riding since 1975. I just caught a minute of this. Different people need different bikes and for different things. For commuting short distances, mountain bikes are more stable and more upright. For fitness nothing beats a road bike. Peddling w/o cleats definitely adversely affects the efficiency of the stroke and is not as good for the knees. Why limit bike choices?
Helmets are great, much lighter than they were in 1976 and improve safety in crashes. Those w/o helmets don't necessarily ride more safely. Helmets saved the lives of several of my friends.

Jul. 23 2012 11:55 AM
Jack from Brooklyn

For all of the Tour I've watched, I never heard anyone telling me what shoes I should wear, what bike is best for me, what width of tire is the best. Oy vey!

Jul. 23 2012 11:54 AM

I've recently come down with severe piriformis syndrome and sciatica. A physical therapist friend thinks biking is aggravating it. I don't want to quit riding! Any tips/thoughts? Would a particular seat help, or anything else?

Jul. 23 2012 11:53 AM
William from Manhattan

Right (Ride) On, Mr. Peterson! The Lance Armstrong wannabes are a blight on the NYC biking scene and a hazard to normal bikers and pedestrians. The NASCAR analogy is apt. I say police enforcement to get them off the street, except when streets are closed for races. A couple of patrol cars on Riverside Drive would start to send a signal.

Jul. 23 2012 11:53 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Well, the price of the bikes on his site aside, he IS making sense and seems to come from a non-fanatical point of view. Which is refreshing.

Jul. 23 2012 11:52 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

i was a roadie for quite a few years, until some colorful experiences with accidents and speed reformed my attitude about what constituted "fun."

now i ride an azor omafiets (with a brooks seat) as a functional, daily bike. i'm upright, very visible, the geometry suits my tallness. i'm not riding as fast, but i'm riding more, and to more places. however, the weight of the frame means momentum will see me flying with minimal effort when i need it.

i would recommend a dutch bike to anyone who wants to ride daily--both for fitness and pleasure.

Jul. 23 2012 11:52 AM
joan from east village

i've avidly ridden in the city for more than 30 years and don't wear an helmet.

i might be denial, but i'm more present without one (there is an aspect of false security) so i feel i'm more attentive while riding (and certainly more free and unencumbered).

Jul. 23 2012 11:52 AM
fuva from harlemworld

What does he think of the current fixed wheel (flip-flop hub) craze? I'm in the market for one. Can he advise on choosing one for a novice?

And I agree about the helmet hype. I mean, folks have bene riding without them for centuries...

Jul. 23 2012 11:50 AM

I agree with the first comment that people tend to gravitate to thinking that they need to have a certain bike model, shape, and attire. Sometimes when I see people all geared up, I wonder if that is what it is to be a "cyclist" and sometime is it is a deterrent because I don't want to spend another $600+ to get a "better" bike or more money to get a certain outfit or a certain brand. I just want to ride my bike and not worry that people will see me and think - look, why is she not dressed like the rest of riders in Central Park.

Jul. 23 2012 11:50 AM
Wendy from NYC

What is the best type of bike seat for riding with your child (front handlebar mount, rear mount, trailer)? And at what age can you ride with your child?

Jul. 23 2012 11:49 AM
Steve from Rockville Centre, NY

Per Rivendell's web site, their cheapest bike is $1,050! So what's the point here?

Jul. 23 2012 11:49 AM
Megan from Brooklyn

On the topic of racing culture as I experience it here in NYC, I do get find it annoying, especially the racing cyclists at Prospect Park who yell at people who bike for pleasure to get out of the way. I think many of them make a bad name for cycling in Brooklyn, and I find their way of cycling kind of dangerous. I wish there was a special velodrome for those people so the rest of us can enjoy our leisurely rides in the park.

Jul. 23 2012 11:49 AM
Ana from Brooklyn

I'm buying a used bike that has been in storage for a few years. what kind of maintenance do I need to do to get it running smoothly. it's in great shape, just dusty and hasn't been moved in a while.

Jul. 23 2012 11:49 AM
Alex from Manhattan

Two comments:
1) Anti-helmet? That seems foolish. It's a simple safety precaution that can prevent serious injury. Why not work to design a more comfortable helmet instead ?

2) What will it take to get more bike lanes for long distance rides ? Can they put next to rail lines ? Next to highways? How far could people commute in to work if there were good bike lanes ? Is a 30 mile bike commute realistic for some riders ?

Jul. 23 2012 11:48 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Without pre-judging the guy -- I never heard of Mr. Petersen, I just checked out "his" site (the one that is given on this page) and the prices of bikes on that site are priced something between $1000 & $3000.

I'm in the market for a bike, but that's waaaay beyond my budget, and I would think beyond most folk's.

Is Mr. Petersen the Alice Waters of biking -- high-falutin' sounding ideas, but beyond the means of the average people?

Jul. 23 2012 11:47 AM
Jersey Jim from NJ

I have a lot of respect for Petersen and his work. I think there's room for racers and commuters. Saying that that racing bikes have ruined the breed is like saying Formula 1 racing has ruined the minivan. These are 2 different types of vehicles for 2 different tasks.

We (Americans) don't have a culture of cycling as they do, say, in the Netherlands. The marketing of of bicycles has to change if there's going to be an increase in bicycle commuting. That change won't happen if you alienate the cyclists who choose racing bikes. Those are exactly the kinds of people who are more likely to ride, and also more likely to have more than one bike. Like people who have a minivan and a sports car, they might buy a commuting bike for everyday use so long as they aren't marginalized.

Jul. 23 2012 10:51 AM

I rode a Rivendell across North America (both on the highway and trails) which I now use for local errands. Best all-around bike ever. Fancier bikes have come to, and gone from, from my garage but I will never give that one up.

Jul. 23 2012 10:46 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.