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View Full Version : Road etiquette - calling your pass



jrenaut
06-29-2011, 04:55 PM
This morning I was southbound on 14th NW around L St. I was in the middle lane (for whatever weirdness of light timing, there's not much traffic on that block if you get off the green leaving the circle quickly). There was a bus in front of my trying to get to the right, half in my lane, half in the right lane.

Just as I started to move left, staying in my lane, to pass him, some guy all decked out in cycling gear, nice bike, definitely serious, passes me on the left without a word. If I hadn't heard noise from his bike, I probably would have cut him off and sent both of us down.

I shouldn't have to check behind me when I'm staying in the lane, right? He should have called his pass? Or is there some unwritten rule I'm not aware of?

DismalScientist
06-29-2011, 05:37 PM
I would check behind me if moving over half a lane. Just as the bus was splitting lanes, a car potentially could be splitting your lane and the one to the left. (Of course, you could probably hear the car.)
If I were passing another cyclist with a half a lane spacing, I probably wouldn't call a pass. On the other hand, he could also see the bus and anticipate your likely move. In that case, it would be appropriate to call the pass.

As an aside, a cyclist on a nice bike and cycling gear does not connote "definitely serious" to me in this area. Some are and some aren't.

jrenaut
06-29-2011, 05:39 PM
As an aside, a cyclist on a nice bike and cycling gear does not connote "definitely serious" to me in this area. Some are and some aren't.
Okay, it was really his calves that sealed it.

Does it make a difference that I was more or less in the center of the lane?

eminva
06-29-2011, 07:03 PM
When I'm in the lane and passing someone in the same lane (or general vicinity), I always call a warning. I figure with all the traffic noise they wouldn't hear me approaching. It's kind of a defensive maneuver, just to prevent them from being startled or in case they were about to do something unexpected.

Having said that, I would anticipate them moving to avoid a large bus blocking their path, and would either not pass then or give an even wider berth.

But I've had plenty of people pass me on the street without a warning, so I don't think it is expected.

Liz

RESTONTODC
06-29-2011, 09:11 PM
I haven't heard anyone call out PASSING while riding in DC streets. Riding bike in DC is just like you're in a war zone. I always scan for threats.

For my own safety, I would check my rear even I'm move left or right in my own lanes. I see too many cars doing lane splitting or squeezing by. You won't hear anything when a Toyota Prius pass you.

BTW, I didn't ride on the 14th NW this morning.

StopMeansStop
06-29-2011, 09:15 PM
This is why I carry a clown horn

CCrew
06-30-2011, 04:08 AM
I'm in my 4th year of doing this, so take it for what it's worth. Which is probably very little :)

At the end of the day, all you can worry about is not being "that cyclist". The fact that you even made the original post says that you're not.

Whether it's driving, cycling, or even walking there's always going to be idiots. The person that just has to pass you in the car so they can pull back in front of you and turn right. The person that butts in front of you in the grocery line. You can let it get to you, or you can let it roll off. It's a lot easier to let it roll off. Sometimes it's really frigging hard... I'll be the first to admit. But in reality, what's the alternative other than confrontation? That usually never goes well. Even complaining at a place like here will frequently get enough of a mixed response that you question whether you're right or not. At the end of the day just do what your conscience says is best. It's all you have.

That's it. There's idiots in the world. Take your satisfaction in just not being one.

-Roger

jrenaut
06-30-2011, 06:48 AM
I thought about saying something when WE ALL STOPPED TOGETHER AT THE NEXT LIGHT, but decided not to. The one time I confronted a cyclist for being an ass (blowing through a crosswalk against the light and nearly hitting me while I was carrying my daughter), he just gave me a look like he'd just stepped in dog crap or something.

It just makes me want to make sure I do a better job of calling my own passes - I do when it's close, but I'm going to start calling it more, even if there's plenty of room and no obstacles (you know, buses) to go around.

Dirt
06-30-2011, 07:31 AM
I love and respect all mankind. :D

Greenbelt
06-30-2011, 08:38 AM
On a related topic of etiquette, is it considered OK to draft someone on a trail? Just don't do it? Announce that you're back there so the rider in front knows? I've pulled up and drafted fast riders occasionally on the (not crowded usually) MBT in headwinds or just for the heck of it. And I've had people do the same behind me. I don't mind at all -- it seems to make sense to help somebody up the trail. But I didn't want to creep somebody out by following them either. And also, obviously, the drafter needs to be really alert for slowdowns...

Dirt
06-30-2011, 08:46 AM
For drafting, I usually pull to the front and take a pull, then see if the person wants to take a pull. If I'm not able to get around and do that, I will ask if I can take a wheel for a few.

Tim Kelley
06-30-2011, 08:54 AM
Regarding drafting, if I meet up with someone anywhere (road, trail, etc) who is going about the same speed as me, I generally ask first if we can draft/paceline before doing so.

If someone rolls up to me and starts drafting me without asking, I gradually try to drop them.

CCrew
06-30-2011, 09:00 AM
Regarding drafting, if I meet up with someone anywhere (road, trail, etc) who is going about the same speed as me, I generally ask first if we can draft/paceline before doing so.

If someone rolls up to me and starts drafting me without asking, I gradually try to drop them.

You obviously weren't the tool that was wheelsucking me yesterday then. I pulled him for 2 miles until we hit a crossing. Looked back and told him it was his turn. He looked at me like I was an alien. He then proceeded to wheelsuck me again for the next two until I had enough and did the Top Gun maneuver... hit the brakes at about 20mph and watched him fly right by :p

Didn't wait long enough though... had him again in a mile, he couldn't hold his own....

brendan
06-30-2011, 09:15 AM
On a related topic of etiquette, is it considered OK to draft someone on a trail? Just don't do it? Announce that you're back there so the rider in front knows? I've pulled up and drafted fast riders occasionally on the (not crowded usually) MBT in headwinds or just for the heck of it. And I've had people do the same behind me. I don't mind at all -- it seems to make sense to help somebody up the trail. But I didn't want to creep somebody out by following them either. And also, obviously, the drafter needs to be really alert for slowdowns...

Always ask permission. At a minimum, this ensures they'll know you're back there and will be calling changes/problems out.

On the eastern part of the W&OD, I wouldn't do it with someone you don't know. Too many path crossings, stop signs and, during the heavy season, people.

And never on the MVT, way too crowded to do it safely. I've seen two ambulances picking up cyclists on the MVT, and my gut feeling (due to the clothing of those waiting around) was that it was due to a paceline gone wrong.

Brendan

Joe Chapline
06-30-2011, 09:15 AM
For drafting, I usually pull to the front and take a pull, then see if the person wants to take a pull. If I'm not able to get around and do that, I will ask if I can take a wheel for a few.

I think having a stranger pull up right behind me is creepy. Plus, rightly or wrongly, I worry that someone who's behaving like they're in race is probably going to ride up my back if I stop at a stop sign. Dirt's approach would work, because if someone pulls in front, I can stop and wait until the crazy person is out of sight.

brendan
06-30-2011, 09:19 AM
I think having a stranger pull up right behind me is creepy. Plus, rightly or wrongly, I worry that someone who's behaving like they're in race is probably going to ride up my back if I stop at a stop sign. Dirt's approach would work, because if someone pulls in front, I can stop and wait until the crazy person is out of sight.

Of course, someone not familiar with drafting might think you were pulling some sort of primate dominance game.

I still think one should vocalize your intentions.

And there can be additional complications. Recall this thread? http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?369-Trail-Etiquette

Brendan

OneEighth
06-30-2011, 09:24 AM
I get tag-alongs fairly frequently. As long as they don't do something annoying or dangerous, I don't mind and, in fact, make the most of it---having someone on my tail helps me stay focused on maintaining my cadence.
There are really only two things that piss me off:
1. Riders who don't notice the lack of derailleur and rear brake and consequently don't give me the room I need to slow down, and
2. Riders who get delusional from drafting, hop out front and force me to pass them again when they fail because they don't have the legs and lungs.

That said, I prefer to have someone let me know that they are drafting me(just in case I don't notice) and I appreciate when they offer to take point for a bit (though I generally don't want to draft anyone).

eminva
06-30-2011, 09:25 AM
I asked this question way back in the winter -- it kind of creeped me out when someone started drafting unannounced (right after I passed him) when it was dark on the way home. Not sure this is logical, but if it is daylight I am less bothered by it because I can turn around and see who's back there. Still, I think it is best to ask and of course take your turn doing the work.

It's not something I would normally engage in because most of my commute is on the Custis and W&OD through Vienna which are very crowded during good weather. It's crazy enough just trying to dodge all the obstacles by myself. In the winter, not so bad, and I think Greenbelt has pointed out that his trails are usually much less crowded.

Liz

eminva
06-30-2011, 09:28 AM
I asked this question way back in the winter

Okay, and Brendan linked to it. Thanks!

Liz

Dirt
06-30-2011, 09:29 AM
I still think one should vocalize your intentions.
I always announce my intentions. I usually say something like "I'll take wind for a few"... thus implying that they might take a pull down the road. If they spaz or don't come around, then I separate myself from them. In the same way that I'm creative in my ways of letting people know that i'm passing on the left, I'm also pretty creative in ways to get people off my wheel. :D As a big guy that people like to draft off of, it helps to have a few different tools in the tool box. :D

Tim Kelley
06-30-2011, 09:38 AM
On the topic of drafting, I recently had a woman on a hybrid/cruiser bike berate me for "drafting" behind her at 10mph.

I had come up on her on part of the W&OD heading west just after Vienna. This is a busy part of the trail on the weekends and instead of making an unsafe pass, I was waiting for us to clear a pack of pedestrians and oncoming cyclists. It might have been only 10 seconds that I was coasting behind her, but the (rather loud) freewheel sound of my hub completely unnerved her and she turned around and shouted at me to stop drafting her.

I was too flabbergasted to even respond, so when we were clear I pulled around her and quickly passed.

Sorry lady! Not trying to wheelsuck, just trying to keep everyone safe!

Tim Kelley
06-30-2011, 09:39 AM
I'm also pretty creative in ways to get people off my wheel. :D As a big guy that people like to draft off of, it helps to have a few different tools in the tool box. :D

Do elaborate!

CCrew
06-30-2011, 09:53 AM
Do elaborate!

Snot rockets?

Joe Chapline
06-30-2011, 09:54 AM
The drafting discussion is timely. With the Tour de France starting in two days, I wouldn't be surprised if there's an increase in trail riders mimicking the pros.

Joe Chapline
06-30-2011, 11:18 AM
On the topic of drafting, I recently had a woman on a hybrid/cruiser bike berate me for "drafting" behind her at 10mph.

I actually have had people try to draft behind my hybrid commuter, for real. Come to think of it, that's why I have such a negative reaction. Anyone trying to draft behind me clearly doesn't know what they're doing. Another commuter accessory to add to my shopping list: a Yosemite Sam "Back Off" mudflap.

eminva
06-30-2011, 11:55 AM
The drafting discussion is timely. With the Tour de France starting in two days, I wouldn't be surprised if there's an increase in trail riders mimicking the pros.

Oh no, I fear you are right. Not that I am opposed to more cyclists, it's just the etiquette.

One problem I am seeing a lot of is passing in oncoming traffic. I wait behind joggers and slower cyclists until all oncoming traffic has cleared. I see a lot of cyclists (coming from either direction) who try to squeeze through in the middle. No regard to whether pets, small children, roller skaters, etc. are involved.

Sorry for the rant -- In know I'm preaching to the choir.

Liz

GreyBear
06-30-2011, 01:28 PM
I have very strong feelings on the subject of uninvited "drafting" by strangers: it's rude, it's annoying, and its dangerous. When done by a man to a woman he does not know, its also harassment. I don't tolerate it, on the road, on the trail, at night, during the day, I simply don't tolerate it.

You guys may not believe this, but for every one wheel sucker that you get, women get 20 (per my informal survey and daily comparisons with my husband's experience). I've been riding for decades, but I didn't have a recurring problem with this until I began commuting on the MVT. I can get several (99.99 percent of which are men) in one commuting leg--and I am no Sophia Vergara! The girl on the hybrid that Tim Kelley encountered may have had this same experience and was fed up when he innocently ended up in back of her.

When I first attempted to deal with this issue, being a direct type of person, I would turn around and say, "please get off of my wheel." That direct method was often met with explosive, angry reactions. Clearly, there are A LOT of people in the D.C. area that do not know what proper social behavior is. Or, among the responses, is "you're OK, I'm just drafting," or, from somebody who has been on my wheel for a mile or more, "I'm just waiting to pass." And then they just stay there. But I've also had, "I'm just enjoying the view," and "I am not harassing you!" when I haven't said anything about "harassing."

As a result, I now take a more passive approach, which is totally against my personality, but it works. It doesn't involve brake testing, or spitting, or expelling anything from one's nose. If there are any women out there that are having the same problem, I'll be happy to share my techniques with you.

Did I say I have strong feelings about this?

baiskeli
06-30-2011, 02:43 PM
This morning I was southbound on 14th NW around L St. I was in the middle lane (for whatever weirdness of light timing, there's not much traffic on that block if you get off the green leaving the circle quickly). There was a bus in front of my trying to get to the right, half in my lane, half in the right lane.

Just as I started to move left, staying in my lane, to pass him, some guy all decked out in cycling gear, nice bike, definitely serious, passes me on the left without a word. If I hadn't heard noise from his bike, I probably would have cut him off and sent both of us down.

I shouldn't have to check behind me when I'm staying in the lane, right? He should have called his pass? Or is there some unwritten rule I'm not aware of?

This drivers me crazy. When I first got into cycling, calling your pass was the rule, not the exception. I don't expect it all the time, but in any situation that could get at all dangerous, people should do it.

Jen B.
07-08-2011, 12:10 PM
Thank you, GreyBear! I agree that drafting a stranger is both rude and potentially dangerous. Being closely followed by someone whose face I can not see amounts to harrassment whether it's intended or not, and words of assurance from a faceless stranger are NOT reassuring. If the trail is busy or sightlines are obstructed, I truly don't sweat it. Any other time, there's just no excuse. My tactic these days is to just stop pedaling, sit up, and wave them around. I've never had anyone fail to get the message, but perhaps I've been lucky. Would love to hear what others do.

If you want to ride up beside me and chat, great! I often like company but only if you're riding responsibly and I can see you.

acc
07-08-2011, 12:41 PM
At the moment I'm playing with a tiny cowbell that I hang from my handle bars when I ride alone. Its pitch is so high, the sound carries but it does not sound aggressive at all. The slightest jiggle of my bars causes it to ring and I'm surprised how fast people get out of the way. Because it sounds "precious" I haven't had any negative reactions. On the downside it drives other cyclists crazy when I hit a bump and it goes off 20 yards behind them and I'm no where near passing them.

Hey Tim, you're welcome to draft off of me going 10 mph anytime. Bahahaha.

As for guys drafting off of me, I haven't had that particular problem, but I do have the reverse quite often. Some great big guy pulls in front of me and is reluctant to let me pass. It's not the young guys in the pretty clothes who are the problem, it's their dads on hybrids. I just have to work harder and put more distance between me and them after I pass.

I like riding in groups but I like riding alone just as well. Once I'm doing a solo ride, I prefer to keep it that way and if someone is tagging along I'll call over my shoulder some sweet nothing like, "Oooh Big Boy, you go ahead, I'm waiting for my pacemaker to kick in."

ann