Playing in Traffic

> Should one ride with traffic, as on a bicycle, or facing traffic as a
> pedestrian.

Sometimes I feel like a pedestrian, and sometimes I feel more like a bicycle

Cruising speed for me is around 6-8 mph on a 24" wheel, which is fast enough
to ride like a bike. Be aware of the effect a unicyclist has on some drivers,
and make sure you’re not riding in a way that will make them crash into each
other (or you).

Sometimes I feel like going slower, and then I mix better as a pedestrian.
especially if I’m riding a 20" wheel. I don’t like using the 20" for any type
of here-to-there, but there were times when it was all I had. I rode my 20"
up a mountain in Japan in 1987. I was staying in Kobe doing shows, and had no
24" with me.

On some roads, you should stay out of the street completely. It depends on the
traffic. A cop with an attitude can give you a ticket, or a hard time, no matter
where you unicycle, so use your judgement.

If you’re not a good idler, or not good on bumps, make sure you never ride near
the pedestrians. This way you’ll never have to apologize for the fresh hole you
made in that guy’s shin, or the tire mark you just made on that woman’s skirt.

The first time I rode a unicycle in New York City it was with Larry Steele,
manager of the World Wheelers Unicycle Basketball Team. He met me at Penn
Station and said, “Follow me.” Then he took off down major Manhattan streets at
a fast clip, staying to the side of the road but going very close to cars, taxis
and busses (there’s no such thing as ‘far away’ in mid-town Manhattan). I think
he was testing me. It was a lot of fun, but no different from being a low-speed
bike messenger. In other words: PRETTY DANGEROUS!!!

At later times, I’ve used the 24" to get around in the city. It’s one of my
favorite riding experiences; zooming down the sidewalk, zigging and zagging
through the throngs of people. You have to slow down sometimes to wait for
spaces to open up, and then you can zip through. There is some risk here; if
someone makes a sudden very quick change of direction as I pass them we may
collide, but then it’s almost as much their fault as mine. It’s really fun, like
riding a bumpy obstacle course with moving cones. Don’t do this if you aren’t a
fairly solid rider. One of the most interesting things about it is the fact that
it’s New York City (no, I don’t miss the place), where anything goes. A guy
riding a unicycle down the street is no more unusual than a guy carrying a
harpoon gun, a film crew at work, or Dennis Weaver galloping a horse down the
middle of the street. Most people totally ignore you, because you are NOT
particularly unusual there!

When riding on public roads use common sense, be polite, and be safe. How’s that
for a politically correct, almost non-answer?

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone