crankedmag

{ ride a bike… everyday, everywhere }

On Your *%&$@! Left

Maybe it’s just change in weather (even though summer has already come and gone) but there are more people on the trail and streets riding they’re bikes, walking, skating, whatever. It just goes with the terrain I guess, but whether or not your a new pathlete or just doing the same thing you do everyday no matter the time of year, let’s all take the good advice of “paying attention to our surroundings.”

Never have I come across so many people who travel on public thoroughfares with stark ambiguity. Please take off the headphones, understand that there are others around you, don’t take up the whole lane of travel if you’re single, a couple, or a whole school of joggers jogging for charity. I do give a signal when approaching from behind, “on your left” if you neglect to heed that signal, you will get another—likely louder than the first. I’m not being rude, just thorough. Furthermore, we’re in the States, we travel on the right side of the road and paths. When I’m coming around a corner near Gasworks, I’m not expecting someone to be coming directly at me. Being told “Fuck you!” when I ask “what the fuck are you doing?” I guess is appropriate considering my expletive. But seriously, what the fuck are you doing going against the flow of travel? Also, no matter the time of day, you’re not the only one on the path. Don’t swerve around aimlessly zigzagging all over the place, find a busy street to do that in or stay at home with your video games.

So a quick run-down:

Lose the headphones—I believe it is also against the rules of the road, but it gives the impression to all around you that you’re paying attention to something else and won’t hear everything you need to.
Be aware of your surroundings—this includes other people in your near vicinity as well as turns, curbs, traffic, etc. Pay attention.
Call out when passing (and heed that signal)—sometimes, maybe when it’s especially windy or louder than usual ambient noise, people won’t actually know you’re behind them, letting them know (by bell, or voice) you’re about to pass them is a good and safe thing to do.
Don’t be ambiguous—We all should be paying attention, and if we are we can make safe predictions of people’s actions: where they’re going next, what they’re about to do; by exhibiting deliberate actions others will have a better idea of where to go themselves.

I’m sure there’s more that could be added. All in all though, these items will help everybody have a nicer, safer, and above all friendlier time while riding their bikes. Friendly is positive, friendly actually means being part of a community. All of this means communicating positively to your neighboring cyclists as well as pedestrians and motorists. (I do apologize for using the above expletive in my questioning that cyclist’s errant ways). It can be difficult, I know that for sure, but I’m trying.

Community Communication.

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5 Responses

  1. mark says:

    word, dude. word. I was on the trail the other day approaching two pedestrians. They were staying on the right so I moved to the left to pass. When I was about 20 feet away (I was hauling ass, mind you), one of the walkers darts across the trail to look at a flower or something. I slammed on the brakes, started to skid, and whipped my back wheel around like we used to do when we were kids on coaster brake bikes. I was so angry I didn’t even tell them to fuck off, but judging from the walkers’ repeated apologizing and outright terror, I think they learned a lesson. Next time I will be ringing the bell for sure.

  2. crankedmag says:

    I wasn’t aware you were capable of “hauling ass.”

    Brooke just got a bell on her bike, and she’s loving it. Ringing it for everyone. It has such a good sound, I sometimes think my vocal “Ding-ding” just might not compare.

  3. Garrett says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Thank’s for saying what needed to be said. Like you I have noticed more people and cyclists out on the paths. It’s frustrating sometimes. Imagine a few years from now when even more people are riding their bikes instead of driving. Hopefully by then people will be more accustomed to the rules of the road and pay attention. It will take time but I think it will get better.

  4. lantius says:

    this is why i ride on the road.

    last summer i was crusing along that same section of the burke around gasworks when a timetrialist riding on his aero bars came right at me. i was on the right side of the road and expected him to yield to his right as well, but for whatever reason he just looked right at me and then slammed into me. i was on a gaspipe era 1963 schwinn cruiser and i just stopped and put both feet down. he went flying. he was pretty pissed. the arrival of the rest of the .83 ride put an end to his ranting and he fixed his bike while we rode off.

    this kind of situation is why i try to avoid bike paths as much as possible. there are only a few sections of trail in seattle where they\’re really a better option than just riding on the roads nearby. cars, though intimidating, are at least somewhat more predictable than the spring cyclist.

  5. C-Fiddy says:

    AMEN Brothers and Sisters!!!
    I added a Honka horn to my commuter after a jay-walking kid bolted out into me without looking. I use it so much I can’t believe I rode through town without it. My bell is now a friendly “hello” to other cyclists, but the horn says “Wake up”, or “Hang up your phone”, they’re are other VEHICLES on the road besides YOU!
    Preachin’ to the choir, I know, but BE SEEN, OBEY TRAFFIC LAWS, GAIN RESPECT!
    Thank you!

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