Posts tagged ‘manners’

February 7, 2012

Miss Manners Would Approve: Dealing with Drivers

I try to be an ambassador from the friendly biking nation when I ride. Since throwing a hissy fit or flipping off a driver probably just confirms their existing opinion of people on bikes (since of course we are all 100% identical, unlike those unique individuals behind the wheel), I figure I’m helping a little in our ongoing efforts to build diplomatic relations and perhaps someday be admitted to the WTO (World Transportation Order).

This graphic suggests a similar approach. Consider freaking them out.

Tags: ,
October 25, 2011

Bike Commuting Manners: Is a Smile or a Nod Too Much to Ask?

Cover illustration for the book Quest for Good Manners

This illustration is from, a book by Karen Lefranc. Try your local bookstore or buy on Amazon (affiliate link). Administer to bike riders as needed. (I haven't read it--I just liked the title and the cover.)

This was going to be another rant about Rider #1, the guy I chicked recently. See, I chicked him again Monday morning, same way as last time (by taking a different route to the same point).

He whooshed past me with no verbal warning, ignoring my cheery “Good morning!” as he whizzed down Southeast Boulevard just below 14th riding with Lance Armstrong-approved cadence, knees nicely tucked in, racer focus written on his face. (I know what that looks like because Sweet Hubs races with Spokane Rocket Velo.)

Do you know this man? He’s white, perhaps in his 30s, built like a bike racer. When he got to work this morning sometime after 8:15 a.m., possibly in the downtown core, he was wearing bright blue bike tights (you look like Superman, man), black shorts, a red jacket, and a backpack.

This is a small town, so surely one of you knows him and can say, “Hey, man, is it too much to ask that you just let the lady on the bike with the Donkey Boxx who rides on Southeast Boulevard know that you’re passing on the left? She’s writing about you. And you may want to pick a different route to work because apparently she keeps passing you on Division. Don’t underestimate the skirt and high heels.”

My mother raised me to respond to greetings in kind. If someone says “hello” or “good morning” you respond, even if you’re wearing your grumpy pants at that particular moment.

Sweet Hubs tells me I need to let this go because some people say hi and some people don’t. He’s right, but…. Let’s make this about safety instead of manners, although I think it’s about both.

In the bike world, many of us—obviously not all—call out when coming up on someone from behind. This isn’t about being my best buddy. It’s about letting me know you’re there.

If I hadn’t heard his whooshing from behind me this morning I wouldn’t have known he was there. A startled cyclist (particularly a beginner, although I’m not one) can be an unsafe cyclist.

If a squirrel had run out in front of me or I’d swerved suddenly to avoid a tree limb or nest of pine cones—things that happen often riding in a Tree City USA—I would have maneuvered quickly around the hazard, much to his unpleasant surprise.

With a clear signal that someone’s coming up from behind I can make choices about whether I go left or right to avoid a hazard.

This is equally true whether I’m riding on city streets, bike lanes, or separated paths. The Centennial Trail can be full of hazardous interactions that leave you muttering like a crabby driver in rush hour traffic, or you can ride courteously and let people know you’re coming with a cheery “Passing on your left!” or a ring of your bell.

So it’s not about my need for social interaction, it’s about your safety, Mr. Can’t Be Bothered to Say Good Morning.

When I last saw Grumpy Pants (other than in my rearview mirror on Division at Sprague—ha!), he had moved over into the far left lane on northbound Division and probably took the left turn onto Spokane Falls Boulevard. This was sometime between 8:15-8:30 a.m.

Say hi to him for me, will you? And let me know if he says anything in return.

Your Turn

  • Do you say hello to riders you meet or pass? Why or why not?
  • Do you know this man?
September 29, 2011

Dear Reader, I Chicked Him

A couple of days ago I chicked a guy.

That is to say, I overtook and passed him climbing a hill on the way home.

Wearing a skirt.

Mind you, only one of us was aware this was a race. He looked as if he was taking it fairly easy going up the hill when I first saw him somewhere around Sherman Avenue and maybe 7th or so. I caught a glimpse of him as I turned right (south) from 5th.

Now, I’m not fiercely competitive in many aspects of life. I like to support and encourage and see someone go on to greater things. But put someone’s back ahead of me on a bike and I spin faster. Can’t help it.

So I pegged away up the hill at least 1-2 miles faster than my usual climbing pace, which isn’t very fast given that I try not to sweat on my work rides wearing regular clothing. If nothing else, he was motivating me to put more workout value in the ride and that was an acceptable outcome.

I began to feel the gap closing, kept gaining, and finally passed him (ah, sweet victory!) a little above 10th, calling out “On your left!” with a smile in my voice and a song in my heart as I pedaled past. He didn’t chase me down and catch me before I reached my turn another six blocks up and I felt pretty triumphant, all in all.

Whether this particular terminology–which I learned from my husband when I caught and passed a guy who had passed me on a long climb on the Old Palouse Highway–is sexist, I forebear from judging.

As a feminist who never stopped using the F word to describe myself, I figure I can claim the word “chick” or “girl” (spelled, however, with a vowel and only one R—I did major in English) if I want to without giving up my independence.*

Earlier this summer, I executed an even better “chicking,” if that’s the right verb form (hey, wait, I majored in English—it’s right).

That time it was a guy who did look like he was trying, bless his barrel-chested heart, in his workout clothes pegging up the steep overpass on the Centennial Trail that takes you over Hamilton.

I breezed past him without breaking a sweat in my flowered skirt and high heels. I figure with the skirt and heels that’s at least a triple chicking.


*I would argue, however, that this is one of those terms that I can claim as a member of the group described–not one of those terms it’s okay for an outsider to apply in an attempt to bond or in a lame effort at cool hipness.

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • Does your competitive streak emerge when a rider passes you or you see someone ahead?
  • Are we all in secret races with each other all the time? (If so, what do we get when we win?)
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