April 13, 2012


Last week we had the misfortune of our car breaking down, the car I typically use to drive to/from work.

Though, having been a 1 car family for 7 years and a 2 car family for only the last 10 months, it really didn't seem like that big of a blow.  Especially because it gave me the excuse to start biking to work again.  It's only 9 miles between work & home.  That really isn't that far on a bike.  I have considered running it too, but we'll save that for another day.  The car is now fixed, but I want to keep biking as much as I can.  I want to live by Simon's magic words as he waves his wand expecting the TV to magically turn off as we sneak the remote by him.... "Preserve and Conserve"....swish.

And what better way to preserve and conserve then to use human power to get where I need to go.

Anyway, I have some bike-commuter posts thoughts percolating, especially with Bay State Bike week coming up in May, but today I want to ask a question about bike commuter etiquette.

If you were a bike commuter and came up from behind another bike commuter, would you say hello or at least acknowledge with a cheery smile or a casual "on your left/right"?

I am totally new to the longer bike commute.  Sure, I pedaled around town in college and used to make the 3 mile trek to my old job on occasion, but 9 miles through 4 towns is a bit more of a "commute" in my mind.  So I am learning.  A lot.

Like tires should be pumped frequently.

Greased chains make a much smoother ride and no longer makes an awful noise every time you shift gears.

If you push down and pull up at the 3'oclock position your hamstrings take some of the load of your quads!  

And of course my favorite:  Don't look where you don't want to go.

But back to etiquette. This morning, a clearly usual biker-to-worker guy (mirrors, saddlebags - on his bike not his body, stretchy tights and bright windbreaker) came up from behind me, went around me on my right, waited at the light for a bit and then jumped the red light.  No nothing. I thought that was odd, but whatever.  "Biker, bikers," sure I get it - you are biking to go somewhere, it is training, exercise, like a long run or speed work.  I smile or nod at people I run past, but sometimes I'm just in the zone, so biker bikers, I get it.

But bike commuters?

I figured a 'hey' loaded with "isn't it freaky to see all these crazy things along the side of the road like that disgusting thing back there I wish I could unsee?"  Or 'hey' meaning "what about those crazy cars that think they can beat a bike and make a right turn right in front of you. Jerks."  Or 'hey' ...."Isn't this just an amazingly beautiful day to be outside breathing the air in, getting your heart pumping and clearing your sinuses with a few snot rockets?"  Or  "Be careful out there."  You know, that kind of 'hey'. Or even just 'hey' meaning 'hey'

So me in my mountain bike with a back pack full of the day's necessities,  I am a tad slower than a 6' something-guy on a road bike so he was way way ahead of me the next time I saw him at the intersection waiting to cross in the cross walk.  But me on my mountain bike took the bumpy sidewalk/bike path on the parkway.  Admittedly, I decided not to stop to pump up my tires because I didn't want to get passed again.  (How terrible is that!) And then didn't think anything of it again for the reaming 5 miles or so.  In the last mile, on my mountain bike I can cut through the Arboretum taking the gravel paths as well as the paved.  Up over the hill on the gravel and down the other side dumping me right out in front of work.

Guess who was right behind me as I turned into the parking lot for work.

Unfortunately, he was on the other side of the road when I came out of the arb, so I couldn't acknowlege him.  But, Mr. Bike Commuter.  When I see you next week or the week after or whenever I come up from behind you, I'll be sure to say 'hey'.

Do you have bike or running etiquette you live by?


Elizabeth Sweeny said...

Huh. It's never occurred to me to chat with other bicyclists. I mean, I don't chat with other pedestrians (unless there's a specific impetus), and having to make sure I don't e.g. get hit by a car, I am significantly LESS likely to chat with co-bicyclists. (Not that I never have, just that it doesn't occur to me as something I "should" do.)

Douglas A. Waltz said...

I just give the nod and smile. People get nervous when they see a viking on a bicycle.