Along with being awesome for its own sake, nice weather is fun for how many people it brings out, many of whom are getting places on their bikes or on foot. Of course, this means that a lot more people are trying to inhabit the same space that mere months ago was fairly empty. Which means it’s also a good chance to practice being a considerate human being in our more busy shared space.
No, I’m not the world’s leading expert on considerateness, but I do have a few thoughts from the last few days of sunny-weather biking.
You may be strong and speedy. You may have muscles of steel that propel you effortlessly to your destination at 20 million miles an hour. That’s impressive when you’re on some stretch of open road by yourself. It’s wholly unimpressive when you blow past some old man trying his best to hold his line on the overcrowded Hawthorne Bridge. Similarly unimpressive when you and your muscled legs cut close in front of some lady with two kids on the back of her Extracycle. I like going fast, too. I’m even impressed sometimes by other people’s fastness. But I’m definitely not impressed when you’re being an asshole.
When there are other people around, please slow down. Fast biking and close passing may not seem aggressive to you, but it sure does to people who aren’t used to being in a paceline. They matter, too, and have just as much right to feel safe on the road as you do. Save your speedyness for when you’re not in a crowd.
Sometimes it is infuriating to be stuck behind someone slow. Especially when you’re used to not being affected by traffic and you’ve had the winter months largely to yourself on the road. But suck it up.
You generally don’t want someone in a car to pass you until there’s enough room for them to give you a wide enough margin to pass safely, right? That goes for other people on bicycles, too. Wait until there’s a break in traffic, then go around. And can I suggest a friendly “on your left” or bell ding? It may slow you down for a few seconds, but seriously. None of us is so important that we can’t be five seconds later to wherever we’re going for the sake of everyone else’s safety.
3. Rules of the Road
You know how it sucks when someone cuts you off? It similarly sucks when you’re a pedestrian trying to cross a street and get dusted by some speedy fool on a bike who’s too cool to stop. Pedestrians have right of way! I know, it can be hard to work up momentum again when you’re pedaling. But come one. Again, for the sake of someone else (they may be late to work, too!), you can be inconvenienced for five seconds.
If you need a silver lining, think of it as an extra workout to get those legs going back up to speed. :)
4. Assuming positive intent
Sometimes people in cars confusingly cede you right of way at controlled intersections. Sure, it’s weird and awkward sometimes, but mostly people are just trying to be nice. Treat them accordingly, will you? The worst thing ever is repaying someone’s attempted kindness by yelling at them.
4. It’s nice to acknowledge other human beings!
Hey! There are a lot of people out! It’s a good chance to practice your smile and wave! Or perhaps you’re not feeling so overtly friendly? Maybe start just with eye contact, or a finger waggle. We’re all people out here–it’s nice when we’re treated as such.
5. Enjoy yourself!
It’s a lovely day. Hooray! Enjoy it! Whee! Smile! Smile at someone! You might just make their day, and yours too:)
Happy sunny biking, everyone!