On your left! Basic cycling etiquette

Sometimes I forget my manners–hopefully not often. I say please and thank you, write thank you notes (I’m old-fashioned and still love a hand-written note), allow people to exit through a door before I enter. I don’t consider myself a stickler about manners, but having them is definitely helpful. It makes interacting with others run smoothly. After all, everybody can’t fit in the revolving door at once.

With Spring upon us, a topic that comes up often among my group of walking, hiking, and running friends is cyclists giving the courtesy of an “on your left” call or ring of a bell. The greenway is filled with every type of forward-moving athletic modality imaginable, and for the most part it’s all rainbows and butterflies. Until you’re walking along, in my case with my dog, and suddenly a cyclist whizzes by without warning. It startles me to pieces, which I do not appreciate. My dog doesn’t react, but I know many, many dogs who lose it when buzzed by a bike. It’s incredible how soundless a speeding cyclist can be when approaching from behind.

Cyclists in Raleigh
Cycling for a cause in Raleigh

Not only is it courteous to call out or ring, but it’s also a safety issue. As a cyclist, you don’t know what the person you’re approaching is planning to do. My dog, strongly driven by her nose, could suddenly dart to the left. Now my dog is in your path and it’s not going to be good for either of you. If I know you’re coming up behind us, I’ll be sure we both stay put. You give the call-out, and I keep out of your way. See how that works?

For the bikers who don’t think the on-your-left call is necessary, think how motor vehicles don’t always safely share the road. Walkers and runners bemoan cyclists for the very same reason. Before you complain about not enough road space, about vehicles passing too closely, drivers simply being rude, perhaps you should pony up those same manners to pedestrians. “Share the Road” is applicable to you too.

Many thanks to those of you who give a heads-up as you approach. I want to shout a thank you, because that’s the polite thing to do, but don’t want to break your concentration, mess up your pace, or whatever it is that y’all chase. Know that your good manners are appreciated.

Have you been buzzed by a cyclist? Are you a cyclist? What has your experience been?

Cheers, and Be Safe!