Posted by: emilybybike | July 12, 2010

Passing Etiquette

It’s an inevitable part of biking – you will pass and be passed. Whether it’s a race, training ride, group ride, commute or fun ride, there will come a time when you either have to pass a fellow cyclist, jogger, walker etc… or be passed by a fellow cyclist, car, motorcycle etc… (hopefully not a jogger…)

Racing and hard training rides aside, there really is no reason to be rude or aggressive when you pass someone. Shoot, even when I race I try to say “thank you” and “have a good race” when I pass a fellow competitor. But when you’re just out riding on the bike trail, it seems to me to be common sense to be polite when you pass someone, but not all people seem to understand this fact. A simple “passing” or “on your left” or ringing a bike bell is a simple, easy and courteous way to let a fellow rider, runner, walker etc… know that you are coming by. If you don’t let someone know that you’re passing – then how can they know to be aware, keep their line or just even not be startled when you come flying by?

And the same goes for getting passed – when someone is polite enough to let you know they’re coming by, no you don’t have to stop, but it’s not hard to move over a little bit and let them progress. Pass and be passed with politeness, it makes riding the paths more enjoyable for everyone!

I’ll admit that before I really started going by bike and would only use the trails occasionally for training or recovery rides, that I wasn’t always vigilant about letting folks know I was passing. And yes, I used to get extremely annoyed by riders who would ring their bells at me, especially when I’d be out riding my mountain bike on the bike path, and some dude on a road bike or commuter would come flying by me, ring the bell to pass and then slow down, and then when I went to pass them, of course they’d immediately speed up again. Not cool – but the whole getting ‘girled’ is another topic for another time … However, the more and more I ride along bike paths, the more I am aware of the importance of letting folks know you’re coming up on them, and how much I appreciate it when someone lets me know they’re about to pass me. And also the more I ride, the more I’ve discovered that it’s not a huge deal if I have to wait a few seconds to get around someone to do it safely. It’s the same thing as sharing the road with cars – we need to share the path as well. If you get anxious at a slower biker or jogger in front of you and pass dangerously, you’re not different from the angry driver who buzzes you on the road.

So think the next time you’re out in a high exercise traffic area, and while it may hold you up for a few seconds, it’s far more important to be respectful and courteous to your fellow fitness enthusiasts. Just give them a little warning that you’re coming by, smile and say thank you. A little kindness goes a lot farther than a little rudeness for sure.

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