The spring weather has brought out more than just plants, flowers, and weeds. Hordes of bicyclers (and joggers, and walkers, and the like) are now out and about on the paths, roads, and trails. With so many people out and about, some basic etiquette is in order so that we can all enjoy the outdoors (or at least get where we’re going).
First, the principle of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” certainly applies. Too often, I see bikers and joggers out who think they’re the only ones on the path and pay no regard to the others they are either cutting off, running over, or impeding. So, think about your actions.
Second, signal your movements. If you’re turning, use a hand signal. If you’re slowing down, make it clear (also with a hand signal). Make eye contact with the affected biker, walker, or driver as appropriate so you know they know what you’re going to do.
One custom around here is to signal your lane changes (especially left) by pointing sort of down at the ground at about a 45 degree angle. This lets anyone behind you know that you’re going to pass another biker, so they should just bide their time a bit before they try to overtake you. This goes well with:
Third, call out your passing. An audible signal that you’re passing is really essential. Either a bell or just saying “Passing!” should suffice. If using a spoken signal, I recommend calling “Passing!” rather than “On your left!” because the P is a stronger sound than the short O and carries farther.
Fourth, if you are riding on a sidewalk (or multi-use path with a lot of walkers and joggers), recognize that you are bigger and need to watch out for pedestrians, even if they are going painfully slowly. It is sort of like the situation between a car and a bicycle–you need to share the road, and understand that one of the parties is much bigger and can do more damage. Around here, depending on how the commute goes, I’m often wading through tourists for at least the first part of my commute. Yes, it slows me down considerably to weave in and around the tour groups gazing in awe at the Lincoln Memorial, but it would take even longer to sort out what would happen if I ever collided with a tourist (and make me feel bad). So, look out for the little guy.
Not that I’ve ever seen a list like the above, but it does seem like this is the unwritten code of etiquette that nearly all cyclists around here follow. Not too burdensome, and it actually makes sense from the standpoint of trying to keep people safe and able to enjoy the outdoors without putting a number of laws and regulations on what should be a liberating activity.