How to Not Be an Obnoxious Cyclist

Five tips for a happy commute.

Image via Shutterstock.

Bike commuting comes with responsibilities to drivers, fellow bikers, and coworkers. On his Twitter feed, @sharrowsdc, Brian McEntee, an administrator at American University, dispenses wisdom about cycling life. Here’s his unwritten contract of pedaling to work.

1. Obey red lights.

Or at least move through only if there’s no intersecting traffic, a maneuver known as an “Idaho stop” (so named because it’s legal in that state). Pass other cyclists only while in motion—nobody likes the guy who zips to the front of the line while others wait.

2. Don’t take moving violations personally.

“People aren’t there specifically to antagonize you,” says McEntee. “Odds are you’ve done something dickish, too.”

3. Park out of sight.

Wet, grubby bikes muck up floors and take up space. “If your boss is anything other than ‘I love bikes,’” says McEntee, park in provided bicycle rooms or lock your wheels on the street.

4. Take a shower.

Assume, even if you don’t feel sweaty, that you smell. If your office doesn’t have a shower or your gym isn’t nearby, invest in Action Wipes, full-body wet wipes that can be used in a bathroom stall.

5. Pack well.

McEntee, who rides about eight miles from Capitol Hill to AU, recommends toting a change of clothes, moisturizer, deodorant, and lip balm. Leave a pair of dress shoes under your desk.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.