Thursday, July 7, 2011

SpeakUP: Etiquette Is Your Best Bet

It seems as if I have been rather absent from the blogging world as of late. With four kids home for the summer it is nearly impossible to get computer time. Half the time I cannot even find the thing, and when I do the battery is always dead. Oh well, such is life. And dishes...up to my eyeballs in dishes, but that really has nothing to do with this post. What does you ask? Well, bicycles, that's what.

Bicycles you say? Yes. Bicycles. I really love to ride my bike. For fun, for exercise, for transportation. Hunky Hubby rides his bike to work during the months that he can.  (One of the ways he stays Hunky!) He has done this for about 18 years and has only been run over once!  I have noticed that there is a general lack of knowledge of bicycle etiquette in this area. Really it is only reasonable to cycle here maybe five months of the year, so most folks are not used to bikes being on the roadways and pathways, so I understand. It would be nice though, if we could all learn to share the roads and paths in peace and harmony. Pedestrians, Cyclists, Motorists...united as one. "I'd like to teach the world to sing..."

I am pretty sure no one really cares about this but me, but it's my blog so here goes....
Laws for cyclists vary from state to state, so I am not going to go into actual laws of riding on the roadways but know....good manners especially on non-motorized pathways. Using good manners makes it easier for all of us to enjoy common "ground", smoothing out bumps in the "road" and avoiding potentially "abrasive" situations.

In places where cycling for transportation is common there seems to be one general rule: Get where you need to go as fast as possible and try not to get killed while doing it. I think there should be more rules.

#1 Be courteous. When we give respect we get respect. No darting in front of cars or running over pedestrians. Riding with traffic when on the road is best and using hand signals helps motorists know what we are up to. Cyclists have the right to be there, but we need not be brutish thugs to get respect on the roadways.

#2 Vocalize. Bikes are quiet and pedestrians, more often than not, have headphones these days. A simple "On your left" is common courtesy. Remember also that the peds have the right of way so let's slow down and make sure they are safe before passing. No need to speed past the walkers and joggers. A little "Thank You" when passing never hurt anyone either!

#3 Right is right. When negotiating on-coming traffic on a shared pathway, whether bikers, bladers, boarders, or pedestrians, stay to the right (at least here in the US) and slow down a bit. Being predictable is always the safest bet. Try to make eye contact if possible. I had an on-coming pedestrian jump right in front of me on a path recently. I slammed on my brakes and nearly bit it in the grass when I swerved. I assumed he saw me. Apparently he did not.

#4 Be visible. Bright colored clothing, lights and reflectors make it easier for everyone to see a cyclist. Try hard to be seen, but always assume that NO ONE sees you!

#1 Don't be afraid. Most cyclist are not out to get you. Stay to the right of the path and allow the bikers to go around on the left. If a cyclist is courteous enough to warn you that she is coming up behind (or if you see them coming toward you) do not jump or scream or turn around and stop in the middle of the path. Just keep walking and move a bit to the right. That is all.

#2 Keep a short leash. Nothing is more frightening to cyclists than dogs on a long leash or no leash at all. Dogs are even more unpredictable than humans and do not understand left from right. Getting up close and personal with the pavement is a real possibility for a cyclist who is caught in a leash. Fido won't be too happy either. Keeping the dog on YOUR right side is safer for pooch and pedaler. It allows the bike to pass on your left both coming from behind or toward without worry of leash entanglement.

#1 Please do not run us over.

#2 A little space is nice. It makes cyclist more comfortable when motorist pass without hugging the bike lane, if there is one. If there is no bike lane this is even more important. A thrown rock is a nuisance to a windshield and a motorist. It is deadly to a cyclist. So is getting run over.

#3 Drop the superiority complex pretty please. Cyclist have the right to use the roadways including center turn lanes and crosswalks. We promise to obey the traffic laws, be predictable in our movements and use hand signals if you promise not to run us over.

#4 Please do not run us over.

If you are a cyclist, or share the road or pathways with cyclists, please add to my list. Comments are always welcome. I also added a bit to my story under the fiction tab. Let me know what you think if you have a second. Loving summer. Loving my bike. Share the road my friends...and happy riding!

Quote of the Day: "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."  ~H.G. Wells


  1. Motorists:
    #5: Look both ways before you go around a corner. Sometimes a cyclist will be coming up on your RIGHT side, and if you look it will vastly improve the chances that you won't run us over.

  2. LOL I should have thought of that one...that is actually how Hunky Hubbie got run over!!!!

  3. Excellent list of rules. Does anyone use bike bells when coming up to pedestrians where you live? I love mine, as it warns without breaking up conversations between walkers...

  4. No actually...not a lot of bells here, but we were in Denver recently and they ALL use bells. Seemed like a little bit of a status symbol to have the cutest sounding bell!

  5. My family and I just finished a 30-mile bike ride (the longest I've ever done) and so this post is hilariously and appropriately timely. My husband and I are both laughing, even as we feel the fear and pain!

    Our best tip for bikers is to holler out as you come around a blind corner. If you can't see someone coming, they're not going to see you-be unabashed!

  6. always wear a bro-in-law got hit & his helmet got scraped & cracked...coulda been his noggin...also, whatever happened to white-at-night? with lights?...too many close calls...otherwise...keep on bikin'...

  7. What a great informational post! I didn't know some of these rules! I had to laugh about the 'only getting run over once'. Glad that doesn't happen often.

    And, hey, the family is the important part. Blog if and when you have time. It's for fun! You enjoy those kids and their dirty feet!

  8. not sure how i'm just reading this now but THANK YOU!!! as a car-free girl who bike commutes every day, i appreciate the common sense in this, especially the words about being PREDICTABLE - both for cars and bikes and peds. Obey the law everyone! Cars - if it's not a stop sign, don't stop! Cyclists - don't be a-holes and go through reds (and amen on the note on passing!). Living in Portland where nearly 10% commute in the summers, it gets nuts...

    My peeve - to drivers who complain that cyclists shouldn't listen to music while riding? Bite me. It's no different than you blasting your country music while you drive - it's all about volume. Get off the cell phones and focus on the road :)