“On your left!”
This is a common courtesy shout-out that bicyclists are supposed to give others on the trail system rather than silently passing and scaring the crap out of the person or persons walking or biking on the right.
I’ve already noticed that this courtesy has been in short supply as the weather has turned warmer.
I’m not sure if bikers are embarrassed to say those three words, if they don’t know they are supposed to say those three words (or something similar) (or ring their bell), or if they simply don’t care.
On Saturday, while passing a young couple walking on the local trail, I afforded this common courtesy. The woman immediately said thank you (to which I responded with you’re welcome) and then she added, “You’re the first person who has said that to us today.”
I waved the wave of understanding at them while moving forward, but wondered why I had to be the first person, perhaps the only person to announce myself to the couple. It’s the one lack of biking etiquette that irritates me the most. The portion of the trail I biked on Saturday is busy on nice weekend days. There are couples, families, groups, children, walkers, bikers, rollerbladers, and pets that share the trails. It scares me that a speeding silent biker could come along and take me or someone else out because we chose to wander left at the last minute. It especially scares me with young children who are easily distracted by the flower or bug or leaf on the left side of the trail and unabashedly run there if mom or dad don’t have the little one in their grasp.
Now, before you think I’m being a bit high and mighty about this, I have a confession to make. Initially, I was one of them. I didn’t know the rules and didn’t say anything when I passed. When someone told me about this courtesy, it took a few cracks at it to stop feeling weird and to say it like I meant it. With practice, it has come naturally, like turning on a car’s blinker when you turn a corner. If I can do this, anyone with a voice can.
So, in summation my fellow bikers, please announce yourself when passing others. Be loud and proud. Look out for the people on the trail, keep them safe.
And wear a helmet, just in case…
Linda G. Hill is the Queen of One-Liners and rules over her kingdom of followers. Check out today’s post and commit yourself to join the Queen’s one-liner army because there’s no fighting or blood, only comradery and fun with words.