I agree w Tim - on both accounts. It's a good question. And.... I would not sweat it... I would just tell him.
Originally Posted by Tim Kelley
I have a low level chatter I do on the trail. Its not aggressive, mean or whatever. It's just a matter of fact reminding people of safety and etiquette. I dont ride too much in the dark so the example is usually like a jogger jogging on the left, passing and simply saying as I go by "Please jog on the right."
You gotta make it short, sweet, clear, and effective. Dont worry about being cute. By that time you are already gone by.
Editing - and agreeing w Dirt below - I have to say, my assumption is not that I am going to be effective. I seriously doubt my chatter will result in changed behavior. Instead, my assumption is that if the person hears the message enough times from enough people, that might change behavior. I think there is an advertising adage that you have to hear a message 9 times before it sinks in - envision yourself as one of many messengers, delivering the message. Keep it short. Keep it sweet and effective. Assume that you are building on a bigger dialog.
Last edited by rcannon100; 11-15-2012 at 10:07 AM.
Reason: I'm an idiot, okay?!?!?
I have a TON of experience with communicating with Ninjas.
1) No-one wants to hear anything like criticism.... especially not someone who is kitted up. We're not all asshats, but to be honest, many of us are.
b) You don't have much time to tell them.
q) Tone is everything. Sound critical, negative or aggressive and you're going to get blown-off and get a negative response back. Try to be positive, happy and perky and you might possibly get the message across positively.
69) No matter what you say, the message likely isn't going to be received well.
iii) Who cares? Getting a negative reaction from Mr. Inadequate isn't that big of a deal. S/he is going to get the message, even if it isn't really welcomed. Actually I really do care how I'm received. I would love to have positive interactions with people on the trail. Sometimes that just isn't possible.
Hope that helps a little.
One approach that you can use on peds, cyclists, and even drivers if you have more than just a passing moment starts with a plea, "Hey--can you help me?"
That usually disarms people enough that you can follow up with something along the lines of:
Peds: "It's hard to see you in all black. Reflective gear goes a long way in making you visible--did you know that BikeArlington gives out reflective vests and "straps?
Bikes: "Your bike lights are blinding! Have you thought about turning off flash mode on the trail, or aiming your helmet mounted light off to the side when we pass?"
Cars: "I need help from drivers to give me a little extra space. Like you, I'm just trying to get home to my family"
I also find that if you start out with the mindset that this person is trying to be a responsible cyclist (or ped or driver or whatever) and just doesn't realize whatever you're trying to tell them, then you'll go farther. It may not change your words, but it will your tone, and it will probably come across, even if the person is defensive at first.
This actually happened to me last night - as I was walking into the agency's garage, a guy in all black, black bike, no light was biking out. I happened to have a handful of BikeArlington blinkies in my bag, so I said "Hey, would you like some blinky lights". He was really grateful, took a couple lights for front and back, and turned on the lights he had on his bike all along (he mentioned he often forgets to turn them on until he gets to the dark part of his commute -- to be fair, we were in Foggy Bottom, where there's enough ambient light that I understand forgetting.
Anyway, I was so happy to be able to share the light! Thanks BikeArlington!
Wasn't trying to be snarky. Just saying that the direct approach is the best. He probably doesn't know and would appreciate the direct input.
Originally Posted by creadinger
I think this perfectly highlights the fear most of us have when doing something like this. You're not likely to be able to convey much beyond your actual words (like on the internet), as your facial expression is probably obscured in part by your helmet, maybe glasses, the dark, you may be moving, etc... And there's no greater conversational context (like on the internet). And even your tone of voice may be hard to read because you may be breathing a little harder than usual, or moving, or whatever.
Originally Posted by baiskeli
So the chances of something being misinterpreted are high. Since you're delivering criticism, however constructive, this is an easy situation for the receiver to get mad at you.
Last edited by jrenaut; 11-15-2012 at 12:08 PM.
Reason: Subject/verb agreement. And bunnies!
Originally Posted by jrenaut
I've never had a problem asking someone if they wanted one of my extra blinky lights or a reflective strap, etc. Perhaps it's because I'm a female or, I don't know. But, I try not to turn it into a lecture more of a "hey, you want a blinky light for your bike? I happen to have an extra one." And, then as I'm putting it on their bike I'll mention more casually something that is more of a bonding comment such as "...biking at night can be scary because cars don't often see us...can't have too many lights or reflecties, right? Hope this helps!"
I also keep them attached on my bike already so I don't have to dig through any bags as they are standing there.
(Which reminds me that I need to load up on some more extras, I gave my last red blinky out last night.)
I usually yell out "get a light!", but that is mostly to satisfy my inner curmudgeon so I might add "and stay off of my lawn!"
I tried to give a man and his son some blinkies tonight on the MVT. He declined b/c he had a light (which I couldn't see) and his son had a reflector.