Hey you … flying by lycra … please slow down and pass that woman pushing the baby stroller up ahead safely!
I’ve been riding the multi-use paths a lot lately, and have noticed way too many of my fellow cyclists doing a lot of rude, dumb and downright dangerous things. You know: All the things we hate and fear from the drivers of cars and trucks when we ride on the roads. The things that land us in the hospital. Or worse.
So please, all you cyclists, stop doing it!
Here are some of the more dangerous & dumb things I see cyclists doing on a regular basis on the multi-use paths, and how I respond to them as they whiz by …
Too fast: There are a lot of knuckleheads out there going 20-plus miles an hour on the multi-use path (some on eBikes), where the speed limit is about 15. Now, I admit, I sometimes go faster than 15. OK, I often go faster than 15, and have been known to hit 19 or 20 when I have a nice tailwind. But only on the straights and only when other people aren’t around me. When there are people around, and extra especially when I pass people, I slow down. To a safe speed. To 15 or less.
20-plus MPH is too fast and not safe amidst all the traffic on a multi-use path: Walkers, runners, stroller-pushing moms and rollerbladers in front of you, coming at you from the other direction. If you need to go that fast, well, get off the path and onto the streets.
My Response to Speeders: I’ve started holding up my hand and saying “slow down” when people fly by me in the other direction. Especially when I know there are a bunch of people up ahead of the too-fast, too-dangerous cyclist, around the blind bend. I don’t like being a traffic cop when I’m out on a ride, but perhaps we cyclists should educate and police one another. If not us, then who? But always do it in a polite way. There’s no point in yelling or arguing with anyone.
Too close: Don’t you hate it when you’re out on the road and the car behind you squeezes through a too-narrow, fear-inducing space between you and the car coming in the other direction? Of course you do. It’s scary. That’s why there’s now a 3-foot or 1-meter passing law in many places. So, why do you do it on your bike? On the multi-use path? And scare the crap out of walkers and joggers?
I’ve seen this happen way too often: I’m riding down the path, and two side-by-side walkers/runners are coming toward me in the other direction (which they’re allowed to do), and some knucklehead on a bike coming up fast behind them tries to squeeze in-between them and me as he passes them. Without saying “on your left,” of course. I’ve even seen, on more than one occasion, a cyclist do this and squeeze between me and someone pushing a baby stroller. Are you kidding me?
My Response to the Too Closers: I politely, but firmly, say: “Don’t do that.” And try not to startle the innocent walkers/runners. Or the babies.
If You Can’t See It … Don’t Pass It: They’re called “blind” corners for a reason: You can’t see what’s coming in the other direction. So, don’t cross over to the other lane and pass someone around a blind corner. Are you stupid? Actually, your actions have already established the fact that you’re stupid. The only question is: How stupid are you? Sorry to use the “S” word, but well, this is really dangerous. And stupid.
My Response: The same as the one for “too close” riders, but in an even firmer “Don’t do that!”
On Your Left: I’m shocked by how many cyclists don’t say “on your left” or ring a bell when they pass someone. That’s just rude. And startling to the people they pass. Try this some day: Walk down a multi-use path for a mile or two and notice how many cyclists say “on your left” as they pass. It’s maybe 50 percent. Maybe. And notice how intimidating it can be when one of them – or a group of them – flies by you unannounced. Sometimes only a few inches away.
It’s the safe and human thing to do, and a good percentage of the people I say “on your left” too wave and/or say “thanks.” We’re all in this together, let’s be nice to one another.
My Response: When someone on a bike passes me and fails to say “on your left,” I say it to them: “On your left.” Maybe it will subconsciously sink in and they’ll start saying it. Or maybe not. And, when they pass me without saying it, I tag along, a few meters behind them until we pass some walkers … and quite loudly say “on your left” as we pass them. Again hoping it will sink in. And the , I slow down and let them pull away.
One more thing: No matter how right you are, and how wrong and dangerous the other cyclist’s behavior is, remember: People don’t like being told what to do. Even by Anthony Fauci. That’s just the way it is in our modern society. Nobody can tell anybody nothing any more about anything. So, never yell or scream at people. No matter how much adrenaline the near-crash experience just sent rushing through your body. Take a deep breath and try your best to be polite. Use “please” a lot. And don’t get in an argument. I learned this lesson a long time ago as a newspaper reporter: You can’t argue with an idiot or stubborn person. And, most idiots tend to be stubborn. Just say what you’re gonna say, say it politely, throw in a “please,” and keep riding. And hope what you said sinks in before someone gets hurt.
Anything else? Fill us in on the other annoying and dangerous things cyclists do out there on the paths you ride.
Here’s the link to my Biking France books (Provence, Bordeaux, Normandy, the Loire and the Dordogne). I recently took all five off Amazon, iBooks and all the other eBook platforms because they took about 60 percent of the revenue. Now, thanks to even more tech advances, I can make them available as PDFs.
9 thoughts on “Cyclist-on-Cyclist Crime: Oh, the Carnage”
Steve, Have you ever biked in Montreal? The multi use paths seem to be used for race training. Better brush up on your French if you go there.
Not yet … be safe out there, too many cyclists are dangerous!
Never say “on your left.” People will in fact, move to the left, and there’s a psychological reason for it. The average person walking, jogging, etc., on a MUP is in their own thoughts, just like a cyclist. Between the time the cyclist shouts “on your left,” and the cyclist arriving where the person is, there might be only a couple seconds. The average MUP walker isn’t military trained to react instantly, so by the time their mind has broken it’s train of though, and registered the sound behind them, all they really hear is left, and out of confusion, move right into your path. A loud bike bell or horn, used in advance of the walkers, makes more sense. Ever watch a railroad train at a crossing? Besides their horn, they have a bell that rings the whole time they’re traversing the crossing.
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What haven’t I seen? Not long ago a speeding bike-owner crashed into a cyclist and killed him on the Minuteman “Bike” way in Lexington Mass. It’s a recreational path, not a frigging linear velodrome, grow up ya frigging Freds!
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A MUP or Rail Trail or a bike lane are no place to train. You have no right to endanger others because riding in traffic is inconvenient or feels unsafe to you. Too often I see pedestrians cowering at the edge of the MUP because some speeding cyclists make them give up their right of way. How do you think those same people feel about cyclists once they get back behind the wheel?
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When someone doesn’t call out ‘on your left’, I usually call out ‘on your right’. Also I have been know to ask someone who was riding no handed with no helmet and playing around with his phone if he was an organ donor.
I like that and may start saying “on your right” when someone speeds by without saying anything … it makes more sense than saying “on your left.” See, we can still learn a few things from our elders!
What bothers me is that I cautiously pass the cyclist or two in front of me, announcing my intention. Then a cyclist cones up from behind and passes me while I’m passing them with no view of opposing oncoming bike or pedestrian traffic.
Loved this! I will say, while I’ve seen all of this happen we face issues with foot traffic more and more lately on multi-use paths. Groups of people walking side by side and not moving as we approach or paying attention at all for others or the joggers and dog walkers that listen to music way too loud and don’t hear the loud on you left being shouted multiple times. Its frustrating and unsafe for all. We should all use amenities like these with the mentality that I am not the only one entitled to this therefore should act respectfully and be aware of all.