Dear Bicycle Bandit: Five Simple Rules To Aid Your Getaway

A bike bandit is on the loose in Houston, of all places. Yes, right here in the anti-Portland, a brigand is holding up banks and making his getaway on a Schwinn.

We covered him early in his spree, but he's now hit six banks in the area.

As a fellow cyclist and a guy who hates banks as much as any good American, we're kind of pulling for the guy, so as a service, we're offering these five things to look out for, though there are others, too:

5. The mouths of parking garages. If the guy sticks up any of the downtown banks and tries to pedal down the sidewalk - which is illegal downtown, but something tells us our guy might not care too much about obscure clauses in the cycling code - he'll want to be very careful around these. Motorists often come barreling out of these as if the possibility that a cyclist or pedestrian might be coming down the sidewalk is a purely theoretical construct of no concern to them - like the possibility of water on Mars.

4. Stay the hell out of the so-called "bike lanes," except on Heights Boulevard. Most of these painted gutters are much too narrow and are little more than utterly glass- and debris-strewn nightmares. Want a flat tire to hinder your getaway? Ride in the bike lane - it will oblige faster than you can say "caltrops."

3. Also avoid the bike paths. There is nothing wrong with the bike paths. In fact, there is too much right with them. At certain times of day, they are congested. The harried bank robber will definitely not welcome the sight of the two moms walking side by side, pushing their baby carriages with a pet dog leashed to each one. These caravans occupy, oh, about 97.5 percent of both lanes of the bike path and cannot be run over easily or in good conscience.

2. Make sure you take a good lock, yo. Nothing would be more certain to land you in the stupid criminal hall of fame than if you came running out of the bank with your sack of cash and then found that some crackhead had hauled ass on your Huffy. Irony can be such a bitch. Don't let her victimize you and spring for some serious steel.

1. And even though we ride them regularly, we're gonna go ahead and advise you stay off the sidewalks...Open manhole covers, wires dangling from power lines, abandoned shopping carts, protruding tree limbs and agave plants, the occasional pedestrian...There's just too much that might get in your way.

So there you have it, mister bicycle bandit. Happy trails, you old ten-speed Jesse James!

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