Biking is the best way to go in the city if you are not walking. We at the Thoreau You Don't Know believe strongly in this proposition. Meanwhile, as far as bike etiquette goes, it's tough to stay off the sidewalk even thought the law and courtesy says we ought to. (A friend of the staff recently went to court for a sidewalk bike riding ticket and served some community service time.) Sidewalk bike riding is like jaywalking--who among us cannot resist, once in a while or more. Bikes, like people, are vehicles of compromise. Thus, we draw attention to the schluff, for when you absolutely have to move on the sidewalk and absolutely won't actually "ride."

More on schluffing: an alternate way to use your bike on the sidewalk that is faster than walking and yet is not biking. Intended for short distances only (obviously). What is a schluffing situation? When a biker goes from street biking to sidewalk biking and the bike lane (or bike-favorable street) has ended and the biker still needs to go some distance to his or her front door or destination. Or when the biker just needs to go one block against the direction of traffic and doesn't want to walk. Ideally one would walk, but unfortunately people tend to bike on the sidewalk, which is problematic and illegal and, when there are a lot of people, dangerous and clueless. We present schluffing as an alternative to riding a bike on the sidewalk. We present schluffing as a Third Way, a particular kind of compromise that bikers are great at, as opposed to car drivers, who you would not to see pushing a car down the sidewalk or on the sidewalk at all, pedestrians or not.Schluffing takes advantage of the bike as a scooter-like implement to shorten your trip--and as something that is human-powered and, thus, capable of being NOT used, just walked, walking being human. Brought to you by the staff at The Thoreau You Don't Know, located at (No pedestrians were injured in the making of this video.)


  1. Nice, but there is an alternative that affords just as much control while actually taking up less space on the sidewalk. You can keep atop the bike with thigh and butt on the top tube while striding with one foot on the the ground and the other on the pedal. This technique presents a narrower profile; you and the bike are in a single file, not two abreast. Being off the saddle and on the top tube presents a respectful posture towards pedestrians by conceding that your not actually riding. Then again, try telling that to a cop. Maybe schluffing looks more legal.

    - Brody

  2. Hi Robert, just saw you on NY1 and read the Wild Bunch.

    I noticed that you didn't make a distinction between commercial and non-commercial bikers. The guys (and I mean guys, it's never a woman) I'm scared of are the bike messengers in Manhattan and the delivery guys here in Queens.

    The delivery guys almost always ride on the sidewalks and never use a bell. They just zoom down the sidewalk silently and clip you -- or come damn close to it -- on their way to delivering a pizza. The messengers sometimes ride on the sidewalk, never obey traffic lights and I am sure they try to clip you, especially if you're female.

    I think commercial bikers need to indicate what company or restaurant they're working for and their business should be accountable. Maybe commercial bikers should be licensed, I don't know but some sort of training should be mandatory and companies that don't comply should be fined.

    In your article you indicate that more people have been killed by cars than bikes, but it seems to me that you could be seriously injured by a bike, too. I live at the bottom of a hill and I'm sure a guy on a bike zooming down the sidewalk could do some serious damage to my 105-pound frame or to a kid.

    I appreciate your good intentions, but nothing will change until you get the commercial bikers in line.

  3. More people in NYC are killed each year by cars _on the sidewalk_ (about a dozen) than by bikes (less than one).

  4. please stop writing about cycling in nyc, you are doing us more harm than good. this is just idiotic, i guess if i give running a red light a cutesy name it will be ok.

  5. Stop saying bikers. It's cyclists. Get it right if you're going to criticize.

  6. how fast can you go, then switch to Schluffing? 20mph?

  7. How about staying off the sidewalk?
    I bike most places I go.
    I never have that problem. I stay out in the street where bikes belong.