He whooshed past me with no verbal warning, ignoring my cheery “Good morning!” as he whizzed down Southeast Boulevard just below 14th riding with Lance Armstrong-approved cadence, knees nicely tucked in, racer focus written on his face. (I know what that looks like because Sweet Hubs races with Spokane Rocket Velo.)
Do you know this man? He’s white, perhaps in his 30s, built like a bike racer. When he got to work this morning sometime after 8:15 a.m., possibly in the downtown core, he was wearing bright blue bike tights (you look like Superman, man), black shorts, a red jacket, and a backpack.
This is a small town, so surely one of you knows him and can say, “Hey, man, is it too much to ask that you just let the lady on the bike with the Donkey Boxx who rides on Southeast Boulevard know that you’re passing on the left? She’s writing about you. And you may want to pick a different route to work because apparently she keeps passing you on Division. Don’t underestimate the skirt and high heels.”
My mother raised me to respond to greetings in kind. If someone says “hello” or “good morning” you respond, even if you’re wearing your grumpy pants at that particular moment.
Sweet Hubs tells me I need to let this go because some people say hi and some people don’t. He’s right, but…. Let’s make this about safety instead of manners, although I think it’s about both.
In the bike world, many of us—obviously not all—call out when coming up on someone from behind. This isn’t about being my best buddy. It’s about letting me know you’re there.
If I hadn’t heard his whooshing from behind me this morning I wouldn’t have known he was there. A startled cyclist (particularly a beginner, although I’m not one) can be an unsafe cyclist.
If a squirrel had run out in front of me or I’d swerved suddenly to avoid a tree limb or nest of pine cones—things that happen often riding in a Tree City USA—I would have maneuvered quickly around the hazard, much to his unpleasant surprise.
With a clear signal that someone’s coming up from behind I can make choices about whether I go left or right to avoid a hazard.
This is equally true whether I’m riding on city streets, bike lanes, or separated paths. The Centennial Trail can be full of hazardous interactions that leave you muttering like a crabby driver in rush hour traffic, or you can ride courteously and let people know you’re coming with a cheery “Passing on your left!” or a ring of your bell.
So it’s not about my need for social interaction, it’s about your safety, Mr. Can’t Be Bothered to Say Good Morning.
When I last saw Grumpy Pants (other than in my rearview mirror on Division at Sprague—ha!), he had moved over into the far left lane on northbound Division and probably took the left turn onto Spokane Falls Boulevard. This was sometime between 8:15-8:30 a.m.
Say hi to him for me, will you? And let me know if he says anything in return.
- Do you say hello to riders you meet or pass? Why or why not?
- Do you know this man?