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Nic

I should compose a list of the most annoying "On your lefts." Number 1 would probably be that German guy who said, "On yoor left, man."

Someone needs to talk to these wannabe Tour de France guys.
"Get those weird outfits off okay. If you're so desperate for us to see your nipples than you might as well not wear anything at all. Wait. On second thought, wear something just not that."

They seem so annoyed that people are just going for a bike ride on a Saturday morning. You can detect not a little hostility in the "On your left."

I wonder if they say "On your left" in the Tour de France. Maybe Floyd Landis' testosterone makes it so that when he says "On your left", the person he's passing will look at him, see something unnatural down under and stop to stare. I guess the weird outfits help with that. If you see the nipples, its better not to think about what else you can see.

Its easy to see why Landis is in so much trouble. The race judges say "You make me sick."

And talk about the worst defence ever. "I am not in any doping process," Landis claims. He should have used Homer's version: "He misread me pee."

deadlytoque

As someone who both cycles and runs (I'm trying to train for a Triathlon, if I can ever get some time to do some swimming), I have been on both ends of this little situation, and in the cyclists' defence, it is a bit exasperating to have all the responsibility of safety in the passing stage.

Runners don't have rear-view mirrors, and if you run with music, as I do, you don't always hear a cyclist coming up behind you, unless they make enough noise to be heard, which requires raising the voice a bit, and possibly coming off a bit hostile. It's also a bit frustrating that runners a) tend towards the centre of the path, rather than keeping right; and b) often run in groups, filling the whole trail, even if they would have otherwise kept to the right. On the other hand, a lot of cyclists are the kind of people who think "I've spent $10,000 on my bike, and another grand on my stupid outfit, so I have paid for the privelege of being snarky, especially to plebians on foot".

As far as the garb goes, biking gear makes you look like a dork, 100% of the time. And to a large extent, I don't think it's necessary. The last Triathlon I watched, the guy who finished first wore the same comfortable, normal shorts for all three legs.

And another thing (then I'll stop before this becomes a rant), if people can chit-chat with each other while cycling, they are doing it wrong. If you're out for a casual ride, that's one thing, but if you've gone through the trouble of getting all dressed up, and you're not pumping those pedals as hard as you can, you have no right to the trail at all. Not even on the left.

Joe

I'm totally with you, deadlytoque, on the need for some passing signal cue especially on bike/running paths. Those are too narrow and the on the left call out is more than just a fine courtesy. But I'm talking about a two lane parkway, a roadway that's closed for cars on weekends. There's plenty of space for passing runners on the far right and indeed for accomodating the wide variety of walkers, bikers, runners, skaters, strollers who head out to park. I stay as far to the right as possible (though move to the left on a short stretch of road that is open to the occassional car heading to a picnic area...which brings me face to face with on-coming cyclists, but also face to face with on-coming cars, which makes me feel a little more secure).

Nevertheless when I'm on the far right I still hear the frequent "on the left" call out when I'm nowhere near the way of the cyclists. In these instances it seems entirely gratuitous. Though comical.

There are, as you point out, people who are taking up a lot space in the roads, traveling in groups or with kids. But why not? It's their park, too. It seems to me there's a responsibility on every creature, particularly those on wheelie contraptions to slow down and avoid an obstacle. The "on the left" call seems to me to be some kind of legalistic absolution for many cyclists who are pedalling with abandon on a shared roadway.

Not sure what caused the accident, but my son and I witnessed the aftermath of such a clash this weekend...a cyclist in full get-up with a bloody gash on his arm administered by a woman by the edge of the road...and a mom scolding a kid on the other side of the road, the boy pleading "It wasn't my fault!" Who's to say?

Mammon


The problem for the bicyclist is that it's hard to raise your voice enough to be heard at a reasonable distance without sounding snappish or impatient.

My solution: a five-dollar bicycle bell. Audible from reasonably far off, but it sounds friendly rather than demanding. This isn't just my impression: I've had favorable comments from the very pedestrians I've passed on the trails.

pascal

The bell is generally favorable over the bar-mounted air horn. The bell conjours up images of a non-threatening codger perched on a gel-filled tractor seat complete with optional flowered basket.
Having trained for a number of biatholons and numerous footraces, I've always considered the "On your____" to be a matter of courtesy to the soon-to-be overtaken runner. The presence of earphones is even more aggravating to me (can you say blissfully unaware of your surroundings?). Perhaps a foam-padded cow catcher would be less distressing than a verbal warning that really only amounts to " I'm about to pass you ...please don't do anything unexpected for about one second."

Joe

I don't consider listening to music while running to be unaware of my surroundings. Ear buds, for their potential if turned up really loudly to be damaging to the hearing, actually don't effectively tune out the rest of the world. I tend to keep music on the low side (it helps to keep me motivated and in rhythm while running or writing, too) so that I can also tune in on the world. I can definitely hear, sense, and realize approaching vehicles, faster runners, skaters, cyclists. It's never a surprise when I'm passed. So the impatient call out from the speeding cyclist is I think superfluous.

I run on bike paths during the week and the traffic is lower...but for some reason I don't get the constant calls for passing...even if the narrowness of the path might warrant it. I suppose the cyclists are a little less intent on burning up the path than they are hell bent on making terrific time on the weekend open road.

But here's a thought...if I've got my earphones on why do the cyclists think I can hear them anyway? :)

yellojkt

Bicycling definitely has the dorkiest athletic wear ever invented. I only ride on mixed use trails occassionally and there are a lot of clueless people out strolling. At 15 to 20 mph, I don't want to run anyone over.

A bell is technically required on the NCR trail in north Baltimore, but everybody just winks at that.

As a road rider, I get a lot of teenagers in pick-ups try to scare me. I doubt they attempt to kill joggers with the same enthusiasm.

yoadrian

A lot of bikers use the "call out" with each other (as do downhill skiers on crowded slopes) so they just extend it to runners; no intended hostility. Having seen some gruesome biker/jogger accidents, I'm all for letting someone ahead know I'm approaching. Maybe a bell is nicer.

I think the ipods contribute to someone getting lost in their thoughts more than to them become "deaf " via noise interference (I personally prefer to listen to the landscape when I run). I doubt anyone has their musuc so loud that they cannot hear their surroundings,; more likely they are just distracted.
.
Besides, if our warning sounds hostile, who can blame us?... Name another recreational activity that requires (to be viewed as "serious") the donning of zippered multi-hued spandex tops, shorts with cheek implants and shoes that just don't go with anything? : )

yoadrian

A lot of bikers use the "call out" with each other (as do downhill skiers on crowded slopes) so they just extend it to runners; no intended hostility. Having seen some gruesome biker/jogger accidents, I'm all for letting someone ahead know I'm approaching. Maybe a bell is nicer.

I think the ipods contribute to someone getting lost in their thoughts more than to them become "deaf " via noise interference (I personally prefer to listen to the landscape when I run). I doubt anyone has their musuc so loud that they cannot hear their surroundings,; more likely they are just distracted.
.
Besides, if our warning sounds hostile, who can blame us?... Name another recreational activity that requires (to be viewed as "serious") the donning of zippered multi-hued spandex tops, shorts with cheek implants and shoes that just don't go with anything? : )

yellojkt

Check out this Washington Post article on how dangerous popular multi-use paths are.

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