Do You Schluff Enough?

Robert Sullivan, author of a recent biking etiquette piece in the New York Times that sparked some heated discussion in the comments section of New York Streetsblog, presents this video introducing the concept of "schluffing." He says the word is meant to evoke "a kind of sleepy riding" not to be confused with schlepping, which this technique helps to minimize. (The origin of the term, I’m told, has something to do with the Yiddish word shlofn.) Etymology aside, the video makes it pretty clear what he’s getting at:

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.

I’ll have to give this schluffing thing a try. Usually if I want to put one foot on the ground I’ll keep straddling the bike, but this seems like a better approach for that last block on the trip home, before I get to my front door.

  • I do this, but only at the very end of a “real” ride, like as I’m approaching the door of my department building at UCLA. It lets me ride right up to the door, and then easily hop off and immediately open the door. Took me a few tries before I could keep my balance after swinging my leg over the bike and keeping my other foot on the peddle. I’ve also seen many a cyclists do this for the last 10 feet or so between them and the door of the green line train car door. Probably against the rules to be “schluffing” on a train platform, but I see it all the time.

  • Peter

    that’s funny.

    i saw someone doing this a couple of months ago or so and started doing it almost immediately. there are lots of times when i just want to walk with my bike, so i do, but sometimes i’ll be walking along a boring stretch of street so i schluff until i’m back in pedestrian traffic or to another interesting part of the street.

    i stay away from the cross-over move, too — it’s easy to lose your ‘coolness chic’ if you get a little too relaxed.

    schluffing with the cross-over footwork is definitely good for when mounting and dismounting from your bike, though.


  • Oddly, the only person I ever saw biking this way was……Tom LaBonge!


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