Sherman Ave Freshman Guide: Bicycles at NU
Before I came to Northwestern, it had been 3 years since I had ridden a bicycle for, well, socially acceptable purposes. Like most high school students, I felt that riding a bicycle was incredibly lame compared to owning a car, and even though most students at my high school did not own a car, getting a ride from your mom was still considered cooler than riding your bicycle (LOGIC BOMB). Nowadays, riding your bike is “hip,” “cool,” “environmentally friendly,” “a political endorsement of socialism,” etc. At Northwestern, riding your bike is a super viable way of getting to such important locations as: the student center that no one is close to; that place on Clarke that’s practically off-campus but for some reason they have classes there; your local alcohol purveyor; and many more. It’s important to understand whether owning and operating a bicycle at NU is the right decision for you. The following is a personal 2nd amendment-centric manifesto confessional sexual novel handy guide on biking at NU.
On WHETHER to have a bicycle: On campus, cars are a luxury that makes you look like a 1% asshole (no, I’m not talking about your milk’s fat content). Personally, I fear and loathe buses and also like to leave for class as late as possible, so it makes sense to have an alternate mode of transportation. Unfortunately, living in a dorm means your bike is either locked up outside all night or trapped in a closet (literally) in the basement of your dorm. If your classes are close to where you live (which they should be; do not create such fun combinations as Engineering and Hinman, History and Elder, etc.), then not having a bicycle is just fine. On the other hand, having a cool bike is highly correlated with getting laid.
On WHAT kind of bicycle to own: DO NOT BUY a hipster bicycle, or fixie, or whatever the fuck those bicycles are called that reflect the cycling technology of the 1950s by not having gearshifts, suspension, or proper tires. Buying one of these bicycles is the equivalent of buying a car with manual windows, no A/C, and a tape deck. You will be miserable, and slow, and miserably slow. Road bikes, crossover-hybrid bikes, and mountain bikes are all sufficient and together constitute the GLORIOUS COMPETENT BICYCLE MASTER RACE. Get a tune-up to ensure your breaks and derailer (biker lingo for gear system) still function. Also, Evanston dictates that you have a red rear reflector and a white front light on your bike. I’ve never been stopped for not having a light, but it’s a good idea anyway because POTHOLES WILL WRECK YOUR SHIT. And make you shit yourself. And ruin your bike. Bad shit makin’ you go batshit, yo.
On WHERE to ride your bicycle, ON CAMPUS: The east sidewalk of Sheridan Ave. is a NO-GO ZONE. YOU SHALL SIMPLY WILL NOT PASS the five freshman girls walking, well, five abreast (haha, boobies). You will not be able to dodge the rival Chinese and Korean gangs taunting each other (Guess which Korea? Hint: the ones that don’t lie about their Olympic medal counts). Do not mistakenly believe you can emulate the skateboarders and longboarders, for douchey are they who can somehow propel themselves on those infernal devices and still navigate the heinous fuckery that is Sheridan between 10am and 4pm. You will get INCWEDIBLY FWUSTWATED with Sheridan if you attempt to cycle on the sidewalk, and you will likely have to walk your bike, which is awful.
On WHERE to ride your bicycle, OFF CAMPUS: Around downtown Evanston, biking is a common mode of transportation. HOWEVA, it is absolutely forbidden to ride on the sidewalk in the commercial areas. If a cop or meter maid (an occupation ironically filled mostly by dudes) spots you, they will likely ticket you, as they have direct orders from Overlord Mayor Tisdahl to make NU students miserable on sight. Use the designated bike lanes, but note that Evanston likes to pretend that it’s a big city and so has several one-way streets. Riding the wrong direction on a one-way street is also a no-no, but going an extra block out of your way to avoid this is TOTAL BULLSHIT. Use back alleys to protest Evanston’s poor urban planning.
On HOW to ride a bicycle: No matter how you ride your bicycle, pedestrians and drivers will think you are an asshole. The world inherently hates those who ride bikes but do not have testicular cancer (and who are over age 12). Before I had a bike on campus, I had already confirmed that bikers are assholes. See, this one time, at 8:50 in the morning, I was drunkenly groggily crossing Sheridan with several other people when some biker decided to sprint through the gap between us pedos (that’s short for pedestrian, right?!) and the curb like Indiana Jones escaping a collapsing ruin, hat-grab and all. He nearly took me out. When I went to say, “it’s cool, no harm no foul,” dude chewed me out for not watching where I was going! It was a correct accusation, but it was clear from his behavior that he has no life and goes to the Keg to enjoy the company of townies and has never been laid (I’m not sure what the difference is between any of these three points). Чертовски мудак.
You can be as passive or aggressive as you want on your bicycle; people will still think that they need to dodge you, or swerve around you, or give you too much of a berth, or be a dick and not give you enough of a berth which causes you to fall in front of that hot Comm Major. Yeah, people suck. Cut across grass and hop curbs to avoid people (such feats are only possible if you’re part of the CAPABLE BICYCLE MASTER RACE, as described above). To further avoid people, befriend the ducks at the Lakefill. Watch them compete for your love with the geese and seagulls like some unholy gang war that serves as an inside joke between us humans and God. These lovable avian combatants never get mad at you for riding a bike, only for not sharing your Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
On how to PROTECT your bicycle: Bicycles are valuable assets. And in Evanston, valuable assets usually get taken from you at gunpoint. Bicycles thieves LOVE Northwestern, because many NU kids come from neighborhoods where you can leave your bicycle outside, unlocked, overnight, and find it safe and sound in the morning. EVANSTON IS NOT LIKE YOUR HOMETOWN. Unless your hometown is Evanston, in which case you really need to expand your horizons. Bike thieves here are pretty quick with those bolt cutters, so chain locks aren’t a good guarantor in the long term. U-locks are great but super inflexible, and they often can’t be locked through both your wheel and the rack. Oh yes, bike thieves will steal your wheels too, so locking the frame to the rack isn’t enough. Ideally, you should get a steel cable to loop through your wheels, frame, and U-lock, which itself is locked to the rack. If you had trouble picturing this, don’t worry; it makes no fucking sense to people who aren’t used to getting their shit stolen from them. See your local bicycle vendor for a steel cable and U-lock C-C-C-C-COMBO PACK.
A final note: DO NOT ride a bicycle drunk. Eleanor Kinkervoss and I once partook in this activity (I only somewhat wish this were a euphemism, bitch is cray <3). I’m still amazed we didn’t crack our skulls. No, owning a helmet does not make drunk biking okay. Well, it might, but clinical trials are still weeks away from human testing (the monkeys are performing… adequately.) And owning a helmet is for pussies. Batman would not approve. And you wouldn’t want to let down Batman, would you?
 This is simply what I imagine takes place, since I am RAYCESS and fear languages I do not speak, which include everything but MURICAN. And a smattering of Russian expletives.
 This ordinance apparently stems from an NU student running over and killing an elderly person with his/her bicycle while riding on the sidewalk. I heard this rumor as a freshman and choose to perpetuate it for your enjoyment to raise awareness.
 Evanston likes to pretend about a lot of things: that it’s not a college town, that the areas to the south and west actually aren’t part of it, that liquor isn’t actually being sold and people are just getting drunk on good family living, etc.
 Our attorneys insist we include a footnote stating that owning a helmet is, in fact, NOT a pussy move. Buy a helmet and wear it. Pussy.