I saw a tweet recently complaining about rude cyclists. Thinking it was another rant about bikes interfering with cars, I replied to the writer (twitterer? twit? This person is definitely not a twit) asking for clarification.
What I mean, she wrote back, are cyclists who are rude to other cyclists, not motorists. They pass without warning, don’t call out, “On your left,” and generally have an arrogant attitude toward others they meet on the road. That attitude could contribute to accidents.
I chewed on that for awhile, and tried to remember instances I’d run across where other cyclists were rude to me. But then I experienced first hand what I think she was talking about.
I was taking my weekly run around the Veloway, chatting with my friend David. The Veloway is wide enough for two lanes, with a white stripe painted down the center. Slow cyclists are supposed to stay in the right lane. In practice, things are less formal.
As we rode along, catching up (I hadn’t seen him in weeks), he was in the right lane, and I was in the left. We didn’t hear anyone, but suddenly, the call, “On your left,” came from right behind me.
Before I could react, a rider passed me on my left side. He was down in the drops, moving fast. I didn’t think much of it — the lanes are plenty wide enough for two bikes to pass without a problem. But suddenly, a second cyclist shot between us without warning.
He was obviously the riding partner of the first guy, and was going just as fast. I looked at David, and he looked back at me and raised his eyebrows.
“Good thing you didn’t move right when that first guy called ‘On your left,'” he said.
“I would have, but he was by me too fast,” I replied. “We could have had a pretty good crash there.”
The problem, as I saw it, was that the first rider indicated he was passing on the left, but his partner passed me on my right. Now, you never pass on the right. And this guy was more than a bike length behind his buddy, so why didn’t he grab his wheel and follow him around me on the left?
The whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth. I know I’m not the fastest guy out there, but I do get out of the way when faster riders come by. There was no reason for this cowboy behavior.
What kinds of rudeness from other cyclists have you experienced on the road?
Most everyone I’ve met on a bike is friendly. I wonder if on the veloway it was just a case of a overly focused extremly clueless hammerhead with no social skills. Know anyone like that?
Sine Botchen says
I’ve witnessed general “bone-headedness” on both the roads and the trails.. I would imagine cyclist-upon-cyclist conflict probably occurs more on the trails than anywhere else, probably due to the limited space. I personally have been involved (although passively) in two incidents on the Veloway over the years. In the first, a group of roadies past me (near the cross-over) and I heard one of them call out to the other “no, no, no, don’t do it” and about that time the “other” cut *right in front of me* and took the cross-over. Fortunately, for both us, mountain bikes have some serious stopping power and I was able to lock up both brakes and narrowly avoid a collision. I think the thing that aggrevates me the most (based on his buddy’s admonition to him) is that it was a very *deliberate* act. I was livid, but kept on riding – some people just aren’t worth it. Okay, that’s not exactly true. I did a couple of extra laps hoping to spot the guy since I’m a veteran mountain bike racer and..
Happen to us on todays ride, we were coming up a steep hill in a bike lane, the first rider passed us, told us “passing on you left”, even gave us FRED’s a nice thumbs up. We met her at the light, we three started off and some “jerk” came up and without warning passed us on the RIGHT! It’s just pure luck that my wife Jo didn’t have a crash as she moved just a bit to the right to give the “faster” rider a bit more room to get by so we wouldn’t hold her up. If I could have caught him, I’d have told him off, Big Time! 🙁 Bad enough to have to deal with the “brain dead cagers” in cars, shouldn’t have to get this from a fellow cyclist, jmho, ymmv.
I saw this behavior many times at White Rock Lake in Dallas. Riders blowing by without so much as a warning most of the time and then there’s the guys that like to weave in and out of other cyclists, runners, walkers without slowing down. And then you get the paceline guys who don’t want to slow down for anybody. It’s a multi-use trail so it’s not only meant for the cyclists.
When thinking back on whose committing the offenses, I tend to believe it’s the cyclists who think they’re ‘Pros’ that are the worst offenders. The women riders were just as bad as the guys.
Not everyone was rude though. There were plenty of riders who were considerate.
I agree with Brian, I quit riding White Rock Lake for this reason.
The interesting part was that MOST of the riders had jerseys sponsored by a world famous LBS and they seemed to set the tone for the trail. I just got tired of getting laughed at when I announced.
I tend not to announce if im not on the sidewalk. But I always pass on the left and always take the lane when doing so. I think that is ok. We dont have a veloway here in Panama City. Just bike lanes on some roads. The only time its an issue is riding at the beach during spring break. Announcing is like yelling “Look out! Rabid dog!” People either freeze or scatter randomly because they dont really know whats going on. Thats why I got a little bell. Everyone knows that sound.
T Foster says
I ride NW Atlanta’s most widely known trail – The Silver Comet – 61 miles of rail to trail – frequently on weeknights. I have seen a few instances where cyclists forget they are on a shared path with walkers, equestrians, roller-bladers and yes other bikers. A few cyclists do appear to think that since they are the fastest that all slower traffic must yield or be aware of the faster. However, the opposite is true. Pedestrians have the “right-of-way”.
I always approach and pass in a manner I can take full responsibility for avoiding a crash. After all, I can see the biker, walker, etc. in front of me that I am overtaking.
I am hearing impaired, so cyclists should not assume that their “on your left” call is sufficient to avoid a dangerous situation. Sometimes a passing cyclist is very near me before I can hear them.
If a rider is riding a straight line and near my pace I will not announce “on your left” as I pass in the left lane. I always announce for walkers and small bikers as they are the most wobbly. When it gets crowded, I slow down as I intersect others. It’s selfish and dangerous not to.
Slowing just gives me an opportunity to work on acceleration from a near stop.
love your attitude! I always announce “on your left” but I also use my hand to point that I am passing. 🙂
Life and Bikes says
I’m in the same camp as T Foster. I rarely call out a warning as long as the rider is holding a steady line. Obviously I’ll call out a little warning for people who aren’t paying attention or holding a straight line. Personally nothing startles me worse than the “etiquette police” who come right up behind you and scream “ON YOU LEFT.” I’ve seen more people sent into a wobble from that than those who are silently passed. I also always try to provide at least a handlebar’s width for the rider I’m passing so should they need to swerve to avoid a pothole, they can do so safely.
I find bike paths very curious places. I’m always shocked on weekends when I see 8 man pace lines go flying by at 20 mph on a strip of concrete that’s barely wide enough for one set of handlebars. If you want to set your fastest pace records hit the roads where you have room and won’t risk head-on collisions with others. That in itself is rude cycling IMHO.
I wonder if these cyclists with bad etiquette are the same ones who in their cars cut you off, tailgate and swerve in out of lanes etc…. the loudmouth at the restuarant, the rude parent at the PTA, the a-hole who takes up 2 parking spaces in a crowded lot with their new Escalade, the musclehead who never wipes his sweat off the gym equipment. There is a small but highly visible minority of people who are just too self involved, arrogant, obnoxious and have warped sense of entitlement no matter if they are driving, cycling, at the gym, school, grocery store or wherever.
Watched a guy in front of me run a red light, swerve into the oncoming lane to avoid the cars turning with the left turn arrow, continue to pedal down the wrong side of the divided lane, then swerve back into the correct lane and on down the road.
Not exactly helping the cause…
Charles Cushman says
I was thinking about this earlier today, but from the opposite point.
I am also one of the riders that don’t always announce that I am coming by. Most of the bike paths that I ride (California) have a dashed center line, so I treat them like I am on a street by passing cleanly on the left. If the rider (or pedestrian) looks wobbly I will announce myself.
What irks me more is people that can’t stay in their lane, or groups forget that people are coming up behind them and take over the entire path. At those times I may even pass on the right if there is more room there.
If I am riding with a friend we will share the lane. If my friend does not feel comfortable with me riding that close then we ride single file.
I’ve had several odd experiences with road bikers that make me think the sport of ride biking tends to attract more rude people and am wondering why. I was on a bike path where my friends and are were off to the side taking a break leaving plenty of room for the other cyclists, the first man in the group said, ‘thank you’ but the last guy said, ‘you could get out of the way’ and my wife and I said, ‘you could not be a jerk.’ I thought this was odd. Then today on the same path I decide to turn left on a path and my friend swerved a little before turning to follow me, the road biker behind us cussed us out said ‘what are you doing?’ I wanted to reply, ‘turning, duh?’ Then I came across another guy who lifted his hands in the air and was all up in arms simply b/c my bike handlebars were sticking over the line in the middle of the path and he was coming the other direction with plenty of room for him to go by. I had another experience a few weeks ago where a lady zipped by on her road bike with no verbal warning and came within inches of me and it would’ve been a bad accident had I been a little closer to the left. I’ve never encountered this behavior with hikers or mountain bikers, just road bikers. It makes me think a lot of road bikers have less technical ability to deal with small problems like someone turning in front of them or coming within their bubble of space (unlike mountain bikers who have to deal with technical terrain).
Thanks so much for this article, I’ve been dealing with this issue for awhile now, so in a way I feel relieved that this isn’t something personal.
I bike in the Northern VA area and where we live there is a trail, the W&OD Trail. I try my hardest to use it at non peak times because the level of incompetence and bad manners can be staggering. How much energy does it take to shout out “on your left?” I practice what I preach- if I pass you, you will hear “on your left, thanks!” and I also give a hand gesture, (I point, as I never learned the “proper” bike signals but it gets my point across!) But these certain cyclists who get up right on me, zoom past me on the left with no warning, is scary, you hear a huge “woosh,” no “passing on your left” and they are gone without consequence to their rude behavior. What are they trying to prove? “I’m faster than you!” – how is that so important? Flexing their egos? I’d love to know why they feel the need to leave me in the dust, with a rude attitude on top of that. Some cyclists actually signal, and I always say thank you, but to the ones I don’t? I’ve found I am losing my patience and many times I will yell out, “Passing on my left! Nice signal!” and they NEVER apologize. It’s like I don’t exist. I have to constantly remind myself that I have every right to be on that trail, and nobody died and made them Greg LeMond.