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View Full Version : Is bike etiquette dead?



baiskeli
03-23-2011, 01:12 PM
Very few cyclists seem to call their passes any more.

I was in the bike lane on Wilson today and some pedestrians were about to jaywalk through it, but stopped. Just as I was about to swerve a little left to give them a wide berth, some jerk flies past me on the left. No warning. From the looks of him, he was an experienced cyclist who should know better. I have had people pass me on the right too, with no warning. One guy passed on the right as I was passing someone else on the left, and almost hit me as we were both coming back in the lane from opposite directions.

Overall, even in safer situations, it seems only about 10 percent of cyclists on the trails and roads call warnings or ring bells these days. I don't expect it every time, but I do in hairy situations.

eminva
03-23-2011, 01:45 PM
I'm getting a lot more than 10%, probably more like 70% warnings on the W&OD and Custis.

Haven't ridden in the bike lanes of Arlington enough to guesstimate a percentage there.

I agree -- warnings are valuable. I often hear the bicycle approaching, but not always, and especially not with auto traffic around. Better safe than sorry.

Liz

FFX_Hinterlands
03-23-2011, 01:50 PM
I ride the W&OD to work and people rarely signal when passing. At a signalized crosswalk I witnessed three cyclists blast out into the street, turn right with the flow of traffic, cut off a car to pull and u-turn and swing back into the crosswalk just to avoid waiting another 30 seconds for the light to change. A minute later another cyclist blew by everyone waiting for the light to change and careened into traffic at full speed. He made it across, but not without scaring the crap out of a couple of drivers I'm sure. The rest of us kind of looked at each other in disbelief and shook our heads.

I guess 10% of people drive their cars like idiots, why should cyclists be any different?

PrintError
03-23-2011, 02:05 PM
Geez, but yeah, I see this every day too. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who calls em out. When I call, I YELL! No sense mumbling it.

On the rare occasion I'm riding in any sort of pack, I'm usually the only one who yells a passing call. I'm no saint, but at least I'm courteous!

DismalScientist
03-23-2011, 03:34 PM
Yesterday morning one of these doufuses ran a red light at Virginia and New Hampshire (he may have been on the sidewalk too) and almost ran into me. I was crossing with a green. Since I was riding a bike, it would have hurt if he hit me. If I were in a big metal box instead, we would have received his just desserts.

MCL1981
03-23-2011, 04:36 PM
I typically don't announce or signal if I'm on the Cap or C&O, however I'm also only passing with very wide berths. If It is going to be tight, I usually don't pass at all or will say something first. This is what I do, because that's what I've found everyone else does. I have never ridden the street bike lanes before so I can't speak for them.

RESTONTODC
03-23-2011, 04:36 PM
That's why I always glance behind me when I swerve or turn, specially in the bike lane.

I don't worry too much the bikes. I want to make sure that the Big Box doesn't hit me.

PotomacCyclist
03-23-2011, 11:08 PM
What annoys me even more are people who pass when they clearly see oncoming bike traffic. They expect cyclists in the other lane to veer out of the way, even though the person passing is on the wrong side of the dividing line. This happened frequently last year. The passers can clearly see me riding toward them and yet they continue with their pass and ride almost directly at me.

Since when does passing give someone an absolute right to go the wrong way on the trail? It's like there's some sort of unwritten rule about it now.

brendan
03-23-2011, 11:41 PM
What annoys me even more are people who pass when they clearly see oncoming bike traffic. They expect cyclists in the other lane to veer out of the way, even though the person passing is on the wrong side of the dividing line. This happened frequently last year. The passers can clearly see me riding toward them and yet they continue with their pass and ride almost directly at me.

Since when does passing give someone an absolute right to go the wrong way on the trail? It's like there's some sort of unwritten rule about it now.

Yeah, I'm on the same page. If I am approaching a slower cyclist or pedestrian from behind and my target solutions are fuzzy due to oncoming bike or pedestrian traffic patterns (highly fuzzy if any pets or children are involved) I just slow up and wait it out, then announce the pass and go. I've hardly ever passed someone when doing so means I'm lined up or nearly lined up between the passee and oncoming traffic of any sort. I like to give myself a wide berth, esp. since I'm on the big dummy most of the time. The couple times I had, it was just poor judge of timing on my part (e.g. oncoming cyclist was going substantially faster than I had initially estimated, live and learn).

This behavior can, of course, be a surprise to someone following me too closely. I think I need some "I brake for..." bumper stickers...

Brendan

FFX_Hinterlands
03-24-2011, 08:56 AM
How many folks have a bell? I don't know how you could ride on a MUT like the WOD without one. One thing I've found.. I switched from a mini incredi-bell to a nice brass hammer-strike crane bell. The incredibell is pretty lound but short ring -- it has no sustain. It makes a short "ping" sound. The brass bell has a much longer and louder sound.... RIIINNNGGGGGGGGG with more sustain. I think the longer tone helps pedestrians tell how fast you're approaching. So the brass ones do work better. It even made the guy with over-the-ear headphones walking two pitbulls on 8-foot leads in the middle of the trail heard it.

Then again if you don't like the idea of having the extra weight of a tiny aluminum black bell on your road bike you're probably not going to get a giant brass one.

consularrider
03-24-2011, 08:59 AM
Do the brass ones work well in the rain, or do they give the same dul "clunk"?

donkeybike
03-24-2011, 09:54 AM
I don't use a bell because I prefer to call out, which I always do unless it is clear the situation does not warrant it. I am rarely going that fast and don't mind slowing down or even stopping if need be. It is alarming to be passed by a speeding bicycle with no warning whatsoever, not to mention how dangerous it is. I stop at red lights also, and I have had cyclists breeze past me and go through the light, with no warning! The passing situation mentioned is even more worrisome--you can always speed back up, so why risk it?

Cyclists have to realize that they have a bad rap--that I don't think is deserved, but we must be ambassadors until society catches up. The disdain that drivers have toward us is really scary.

brendan
03-24-2011, 10:04 AM
How many folks have a bell?

Incredibell here. Depending on trail, speed and what kind of traffic I am passing I alternate from a ding or ding-ding early, then verbally announce to just verbally announcing. In addition, under some circumstances I don't feel it is safe to take my hands off or away from the steering or brakes, so I just verbally announce.

Had a hipster PBR rrrrrrrrrrrring bell for a while, but a branch pulled it off when parking with the BD on the top rack of the car a few short weeks after installing that bell.

Brendan

DaveK
03-24-2011, 11:34 AM
I don't use a bell because I prefer to call out, which I always do unless it is clear the situation does not warrant it. I am rarely going that fast and don't mind slowing down or even stopping if need be. It is alarming to be passed by a speeding bicycle with no warning whatsoever, not to mention how dangerous it is. I stop at red lights also, and I have had cyclists breeze past me and go through the light, with no warning! The passing situation mentioned is even more worrisome--you can always speed back up, so why risk it?

Cyclists have to realize that they have a bad rap--that I don't think is deserved, but we must be ambassadors until society catches up. The disdain that drivers have toward us is really scary.

I just call out as well, I'm usually riding in the hoods and don't have a place to mount a bell that I could get to quickly. Unfortunately this doesn't always help when I have to cross into VA or back to DC because of the high volume of non-English-speaking tourists. I always use the bell on CaBi when I'm riding them.

baiskeli
03-24-2011, 12:38 PM
That's why I always glance behind me when I swerve or turn, specially in the bike lane.

I don't worry too much the bikes. I want to make sure that the Big Box doesn't hit me.

Bikes can sneak up on you because they're silent, and they come alot closer to you when passing. They can do enough damage to you to matter. I worry about both.

acc
03-24-2011, 03:45 PM
How many folks have a bell? I don't know how you could ride on a MUT like the WOD without one. One thing I've found.. I switched from a mini incredi-bell to a nice brass hammer-strike crane bell. The incredibell is pretty lound but short ring -- it has no sustain. It makes a short "ping" sound. The brass bell has a much longer and louder sound.... RIIINNNGGGGGGGGG with more sustain. I think the longer tone helps pedestrians tell how fast you're approaching. So the brass ones do work better. It even made the guy with over-the-ear headphones walking two pitbulls on 8-foot leads in the middle of the trail heard it.

Then again if you don't like the idea of having the extra weight of a tiny aluminum black bell on your road bike you're probably not going to get a giant brass one.

I agree and chuckle about the guy with the pitbulls, I've seen him. I don't want to get hurt and I'd feel terrible if I caused a wreck. Passing with care, passing with courtesy seems like the decent and obvious thing to do. And yes, I am startled and irritated if someone passes me without warning.

acc

txgoonie
03-25-2011, 09:46 AM
Cyclists have to realize that they have a bad rap--that I don't think is deserved, but we must be ambassadors until society catches up. The disdain that drivers have toward us is really scary.

I think we all need to ride with this on our minds all the time. We can choose to either reinforce the negative things people already think or surprise them and open their minds with our safe and courteous behavior.

billy
03-25-2011, 11:19 AM
i still call my passes, but it definitely seems like a dying art. just the other day, i was biking across the 14th st bridge and came up behind a group of joggers that were jogging 2 abreast, thereby blocking my passing lane. i probably could have squeezed through, but i wanted to make sure that i didn't zoom by them on the left without making sure they knew i was coming first, so i slowed down and call my pass. the joggers acknowledged.

as i'm about to make my move, i take a quick glance over my shoulder, and i see another cyclist quickly approaching in a passing position. i hit the brakes, and this guy blew by all of us, totally cutting me off. i was pretty annoyed, but also glad that i looked before passing.

CCrew
03-25-2011, 11:02 PM
Cyclists have to realize that they have a bad rap--that I don't think is deserved, but we must be ambassadors until society catches up. The disdain that drivers have toward us is really scary.

I don't know that it's a bad rap. There seem to be a large number of testosterone fueled idiots out there, even on the W&OD. I've had some of those tools come by me within mere inches without the slightest peep. It's getting so anymore the ones that announce a pass are the rare breed. Don't even get me started on the ones that ride three abreast or pass in the oncoming "side"

Heck, they annoy me and I'm a fellow cyclist. I can understand how drivers get a bad taste when that behavior is carried to the street.

Dirt
03-28-2011, 12:26 PM
I stopped using a bell a few years back. I was getting repetitive stress injuries in my thumb. ;) I installed jinble bell son my handlebars which helps a little. I also maniacally sing show-tunes out of tune and off the beat and replace 7 out of 10 words with the word "meow" and do so at a rather high volume. The trail opens before me as though I was a particularly good prophet parting the red sea.

While the prophet comment above is a feeble attempt at humor, the psycho-babble/singing effectiveness is definitely the best way to let people know that you're coming. People with headphones on that "couldn't hear" my bell or calling out "on your left" in the past quickly move to the right and are attentive to being passed when they hear me belt out "Meow left meow heart in San Meow-sisco". I also seem to get a certain amount of aerobic workout value from it too.

While on the topic, does anyone know the words to "Tie me kangaroo down?" Never-mind. I'll improvise.

Love,

Pete

Dirt
03-28-2011, 12:35 PM
I'll preface this by saying that these are my own personal observations. They have been gathered by riding about 10,000 miles per year for many years in many parts of the US and in Canada, Europe and Central America.


Cyclists have to realize that they have a bad rap--that I don't think is deserved, but we must be ambassadors until society catches up. The disdain that drivers have toward us is really scary.

It is an us-versus-them world out there. There are three main groups of people using/intersecting with the places that we ride: cars, bikes and pedestrians. No matter what group you're in at a given moment, we seem to have the attitude that the OTHER 2 groups are the problem. The cool thing is that this conveniently shifts when we shift modes of transportation. Riders complain about the peds and cars. Cars complain about cyclists and peds. Peds complain about bikes and cars.

Bottom line: The vast majority of us behave like spoiled children when we're in transit. We all probably deserve the reputations that we have. We'd do much better to understand that and behave with a bit more civility.

Interestingly enough, when I travel around the US and the world, I find that there are relatively few places that I encounter this much animosity towards others.

Pete

Mark Blacknell
03-28-2011, 12:39 PM
I don't always call out my passes. Jogger with earphones? Waste of time. Another cyclist moving at a decent clip? I pass with plenty of room. Uncertain cyclist who doesn't spent much time out there? Definite warning. Passing you in a bike lane? I simply take the full lane and pass, no warning. Herd of Great Midwest Tourists? I doesn't matter what I do - I'll just have to wait or practice my CX skills.

Tan me hide when I'm dead, Fred.

Mark Blacknell
03-28-2011, 12:42 PM
Interestingly enough, when I travel around the US and the world, I find that there are relatively few places that I encounter this much animosity towards others.


This. I've been in places with far worse traffic than anywhere in the US (Mexico City, Delhi, etc.) and I've not seen half the anger we get on the streets here.

brendan
03-28-2011, 01:03 PM
I don't always call out my passes. Jogger with earphones? Waste of time.

I've actually been surprised at the number of joggers/walkers with headphones in who actually gesture the "pass signal received" gesture. A minority of them, to be sure, but I guess some folks don't leave it on 11 like I do...

Brendan

Dirt
03-28-2011, 01:49 PM
I've actually been surprised at the number of joggers/walkers with headphones in who actually gesture the "pass signal received" gesture. A minority of them, to be sure, but I guess some folks don't leave it on 11 like I do...
I share that observation, sir. I find a lot of people pretend to not hear.

eminva
03-28-2011, 01:51 PM
Wow, you guys are in rare form today! Thanks for the humor.

Anyway, I kept count on the commute this morning -- I was passed by three cyclists, and two called out warnings. So I stand corrected -- I am getting 66.7%. I wonder why I perceive that I get a higher percentage of warnings than others? Do I look like one of those "tentative" cyclists that everyone warns? :-)

I also wonder why all the animosity in our area? Are we that stressed out?

Liz

Dirt
03-28-2011, 02:06 PM
Wow, you guys are in rare form today! Thanks for the humor.
While there is a some silly content in my post here, I actually do sing psychobabble when the trail is really busy and people definitely get out of the way. During low traffic the jingle bells and me yelling is enough.


Anyway, I kept count on the commute this morning -- I was passed by three cyclists, and two called out warnings. So I stand corrected -- I am getting 66.7%. I wonder why I perceive that I get a higher percentage of warnings than others?
When I ride, I get people that call "on your left" or ding at me to pass. I hear it too. I don't hear it as much when I run or walk. I haven't really done a scientific count.



I also wonder why all the animosity in our area? Are we that stressed out?
I have theories, but I'm working on being kinder and nicer in my behavior. It is the first step in becoming an actual kinder/gentler me, instead of just appearing to be kinder and gentler. ;) For that reason I'm going to keep my thoughts to myself and work on thinking the best about those who I share metro-area trails and roads with. I honestly do love y'all. :D

On an only slightly unrelated topic: YOWZA are the Ninjas back out in full force. I'm soft-pedaling at 10mph and STILL barely seeing people in time to miss them. This is true for cyclists AND walkers/runners, though the numbers of Walkers and runners are higher. It is as though people are actively trying to conceal themselves.

acc
03-28-2011, 03:14 PM
Maybe I'm fortunate that I can take out my pent up feelings of hostility on my children because generally nothing I see out on the trail irks me too much. Perhaps I have low expectations of my fellow man. The exception is when adults put either their little kids or pets in danger and therefore me in danger also. It makes me apoplectic to see toddlers loose on the trail and dogs off leashes. Little kids should have a chance to grow up with all their limbs attached and their skulls in their original shape.

acc

billy
03-28-2011, 03:37 PM
I've actually been surprised at the number of joggers/walkers with headphones in who actually gesture the "pass signal received" gesture. A minority of them, to be sure, but I guess some folks don't leave it on 11 like I do...

Brendan

i generally expect joggers with headphones on to have the volume on low enough to hear at least a little bit above their tunes.

txgoonie
03-28-2011, 08:56 PM
Can I ask a semi-thread-jack? Is walking against traffic something written into law or merely common sense? Lately I seem to be encountering an inordinate number of pedestrians on the road walking with traffic, and I'm wondering what the deal is. Is it possible that these people – runners, people with kids in strollers, i.e. people who seemingly should know better – just truly don't know?

Perhaps I'm just searching for a logical explanation for people flouting the rules besides simply not caring.

CCrew
03-28-2011, 09:49 PM
Do I look like one of those "tentative" cyclists that everyone warns? :-)


You're a woman.. we all know how women drive! :)

(ducks and runs)

eminva
03-29-2011, 06:32 AM
Come to think of it, the only person who didn't call out a warning yesterday was a fellow female. So maybe bike etiquette is dead, but chivalry is not, although I'd best not inquire into its motives.:)

Txgoonie, are you talking about on the trails or the road?

Liz

Dirt
03-29-2011, 06:43 AM
Maybe I'm fortunate that I can take out my pent up feelings of hostility on my children because generally nothing I see out on the trail irks me too much. Perhaps I have low expectations of my fellow man.
You have the right idea, ACC. Taking your frustrations out on your children is AWESOME!!! (Just kidding!) It was the other thing that you tapped on that was the right idea. Having the right attitude yourself is the best way to deal with these things. In actuality, it is the ONLY defense against the ugliness that we encoutner day in day out. I guess I'm living proof of that. I had a change of attitude a few years back and just decided to not let myself get so pissed off at how others behave. Rather I embrace my god-given silliness and have fun all the time. The best reaction to hostility is goofiness because it often completely disarms the person with the hostility. If it doesn't, who cares? I'm still having fun.

Of course being wise and safe is important. I haven't been faced with someone pointing a gun at me while cycling yet, but I hope that when I do, I have the grace, poise and peace-of-mind to keep my natural "Neener Neener! You're a weiner!" comments to myself.

Love,

Pete

acc
03-29-2011, 12:30 PM
Yes Dirt, I drink the same Kool-Aid. The folks on the mixed-use path are generally all trying to do the same thing, get outside, move around a bit, walk the earth, blah blah blah. It's all good. Most of the folks on the road are trying to move along as best they can given the traffic situation, if they motion me or honk me I smile and wave like I'm Miss America. If I'm in a particularly perky mood I'll throw in a kiss. But I am watching what goes on around me and I try to avoid problems if I can. I try to save my anger for when it counts, when my lotto numbers fail to win. :cool:

acc

Dirt
03-29-2011, 12:44 PM
I so need to work on my Miss America smile. Gotta get my teeth whitened too. ;)

baiskeli
03-29-2011, 01:15 PM
Come to think of it, the only person who didn't call out a warning yesterday was a fellow female.

Was it a fellow or a female? Make up your mind. ;)

DaveK
03-29-2011, 01:20 PM
Can I ask a semi-thread-jack? Is walking against traffic something written into law or merely common sense? Lately I seem to be encountering an inordinate number of pedestrians on the road walking with traffic, and I'm wondering what the deal is. Is it possible that these people – runners, people with kids in strollers, i.e. people who seemingly should know better – just truly don't know?

Perhaps I'm just searching for a logical explanation for people flouting the rules besides simply not caring.

This is rampant in my neighborhood and I've never been able to explain it. We have wide sidewalks and ramps at every corner and still the bike lane is full of SUV-sized double strollers. Drives me up the wall.



I've actually been surprised at the number of joggers/walkers with headphones in who actually gesture the "pass signal received" gesture. A minority of them, to be sure, but I guess some folks don't leave it on 11 like I do...

Brendan

I'll third this observation. A wave back and forth after an acknowledged signal makes navigating the MUPs a whole lot easier. They know I'm there, I know they know I'm there, etc...

I also will regularly yell at cyclists passing between two trail users. It's an MUP not the spring classics. Just chill and wait for an opening.

Brendan von Buckingham
03-29-2011, 01:36 PM
When I overtake a cyclist in a roadway, I act the way I think a car should: I give a three-foot buffer and don't announce the pass, just like I don't want a car to honk at me as they pass. Not helpful. I'll announce every pass on a trail because it's not wide enough to give three feet.

Other important factor that you would think doesn't need mentioning is speed. If I'm going 28 mph down the Courthouse hill, please don't ride my fender or hip, and then pass me on the right as I maneuver through traffic. I might need to swerve right at any second (pothole, unsignaled lane change by car, etc.). Just stay in line for 2 or 3 more blocks.

acc
03-29-2011, 02:26 PM
Sir, if I clock you going 28 mph down Courthouse I will hang back and applaud. Seriously, if you are cruising down Courthouse at that speed I would stay back and let you do your thing.

Dirt- The Miss America smile is the easy part, it's the arm wave that's tricky.
acc

Veik
03-29-2011, 02:55 PM
I noticed one guy yelling "Heads up" on WOD this past weekend in Vienna
People who were in front of him (walking, jogging) didnt know which way to run..... :-]

brendan
03-30-2011, 06:21 AM
I also will regularly yell at cyclists passing between two trail users. It's an MUP not the spring classics. Just chill and wait for an opening.

Yeah, that one really irks me. It seems esp. prevalent on the MVT (probably due to traffic volume during the busy seasons)...which is just crazy. I wonder if CCT gets as bad?

I'm thinking of putting a sign on the back of the dummy that says "I brake for trail traffic" for self-preservation.

Brendan

StopMeansStop
04-06-2011, 09:21 AM
So what's the ettiquite to let cyclists behind you know that you know they are trying to pass?

I just point my left hand down in a triangle formation.

Mark Blacknell
04-06-2011, 09:32 AM
[QUOTE=brendan;3028]Yeah, that one really irks me. It seems esp. prevalent on the MVT (probably due to traffic volume during the busy seasons)...which is just crazy. I wonder if CCT gets as bad?
/QUOTE]

CCT is worse. Especially with those trying to thread the needle at 25mph as they're coming back down the hill from Bethesda. Add in the rollerbladers who love to do the same, and it's pretty much off-limits for my riding Spring-Fall.

@SMS - sometimes I'll give a wave, but I don't think there's any responsibility on your part, there, beyond holding your line at a steady speed.

baiskeli
04-07-2011, 01:04 PM
So what's the ettiquite to let cyclists behind you know that you know they are trying to pass?

I just point my left hand down in a triangle formation.

I either nod (you can see my head move from the back) or move over to the right a little if appropriate.