(Reprinted from the April 2000 issue of WheelPeople)
Iwas passing a rider with a kid seat and I realized that with a suitable choice of accessories you could ameliorate or aggravate the general dislike felt for cyclists by the average motorist. Basically, cyclists are looked at as creatures from the planet Zenon, and to the extent you can fool the motorist into thinking you’re just like them, they will be more favorably disposed.
Here are some examples (+ points mean sweetness and light, – points mean you’re on your way to becoming a hood ornament):
Kid seat + 5 points
Kid seat with actual kid + 10 points
Kid seat with inflatable kid + 9 points (also useful when driving and trying to get into the carpool lane)
Bikes not Bombs tee shirt –5 points
“I may be slow but I’m in front of you” sticker –10 points
Lycra skin suit –4 points
Flannel shirt and cutoff jeans + 4 points
Darth Vader style helmet –3 points
Baseball cap turned backwards +3 points
Disk wheels –2 points
Trainer wheels +2 points
Aero bars –3 points
Drop bars turned upside down +3 points
Clipless pedals and shoes –3 points
High top sneakers +3 points
And for sheer shock value we have:
Tandem +5 points
Tandem with kid trailer +10 points (adjust appropriately for kid, inflatable, etc)
We do have some articles whose positive or negative value is debatable.
Milk crate on your rack
This shows you’re not one of those Lycra clad weirdoes but a normal Joe (or Jane) just trying to schlep themselves and their stuff around. On the other hand, you could be interpreted as a pinko hippy degenerate who’s too cheap to support our economy by buying proper panniers, but would rather rip off corporate America (i.e., the Hood milk company).
Attaché case style panniers
This shows you’re part of the work force, not some useless ne’er-do-well who’s out riding his bike while honest folks are going to their dead end jobs to earn a living. On the other hand, your three piece cycling suit may not endear you to the pickup truck drivers, while the Lexus drivers will scorn you as being a disgrace to the breed.