Startling pedestrians can be so much fun.

Tom@WashDC

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Loudoun County, VA.
Not on purpose mind you.

Today I was riding along an elevated wooden path over a nature preserve, my knobby tires making ample noise on the wooden planks. I approached a man, walking along the right side of the trail listening to an old style portable radio, with no headphones. As I came up alongside him (7mph), and casually called out, "passing on your left", he was startled, jumped, turned in mid air, mouth agape, eyes wide with fear, and exclaimed, "Aaarrggghh!, oh my God!". As I slid past him, a spontaneous child-like belly-laugh welled up and convulsed from the center of my being. It felt so nice, so serendipitous.

Someties, it's the little things that make biking a joyous experience.
 
Last edited:

scottsdalecommuter

Active Member
Region
USA
I have found in the past few years saying anything has become nearly useless since everyone is wearing pods and can’t hear anything anyways. That being said I still say bike on your left and slow down a b it and say thank you or have a good day. Most seem to appreciate it but I also get a small laugh out of the folks who like dive out of the way!
 

mschwett

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I’ve noticed that many pedestrians have a very skewed sense of what is “dangerous.” I avoid shared paths as much as possible, but even in crosswalks i’ve gotten a few “JESUS” “OMG SLOW DOWN” “WTF!” comments from people that I was absolutely nowhere near hitting unless they decided to suddenly jump backwards or sideways 5 feet at just the wrong instant. it’s usually elderly ladies so I give their rude comments a pass.

A guy on the Golden Gate Bridge screamed at me to “slow down” when I was going well under the limit, and completely in control. I told him to mind his own business, to which he yelled “IT IS MY BUSINESS.“ I just had to stop and politely point out to him that a) I was on the side of the path marked for bikes, b) I was going under the 15 mph limit, c) I was completely in control and visibility was good, and d) it was in fact none of his business given that I was obeying all relevant laws. His reply, “you guys are dangerous.”
 

mojoe

Member
Region
USA
I try to be very courteous to others on the shared paths. I ding my bell and slow down. Sometimes, I'll even stop, if they are walking dogs, so that I can pet the dogs. Some of the big dogs think they are lap dogs, and want to climb into the trike with me.

Just a few days ago, I saw an older couple walking their dog along the road. I had seen them many times before. This time I stopped, and asked them how far they walk every day. They do a two mile loop around the neighborhood. I'm surprised their dog can keep up, as it it a tiny thing, with very short legs. In any case, we had a nice conversation before parting ways. As much as I enjoy the riding, stopping and talking to the people along the way is a nice part of it, for me. I'm not in such a hurry to get from point A to point B.

I feel that being extra nice to the pedestrians will help minimize bad feelings toward cyclists. But there is always the occasional jerk. I had one "Karen" who was walking on the right side, coming towards me. She refused to move, and loudly insisted that she was in the right. I just politely rode around her. You can't argue with stupid people. It doesn't work.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Going to a destination place is one thing, but at home, just about everyone on the bike path is a regular user. They'll remember you and vice versa. Gotta be nice.
 
Region
Europe
it's nice being in a country where the bike lanes are actually used as bike lanes and not just as the lanes where drunk people stand when the sidewalk gets too busy but sometimes people still act a bit goofy. was riding home from the station with the gf after a night out at like 3am on saturday and rang my bell to let a group of people know we were coming up behind them. one guy turns around and jumps into the lane with his hand up as if i'm going to give him a high five. i simply weave around him but i feel the bike jerk as we are going past, i look back and he is on the ground with his group of friends yelling at him. apparently gf was a bit more annoyed at the altercation than i was and decided to give him a shove back to the pavement. not sure i would describe it as a "joyous e-biking experience" but it was definitely startling lol.
 

jabberwocky

Well-Known Member
In my experience, a bell (alone with no call out) works best for most people you're passing and I have one mounted on every bike that gets ridden on local trails. I've learned not to call out or ring for anyone with headphones though, the reaction is just too unpredictable. If they were really concerned about their surroundings they wouldn't have headphones on. Or, in this case, loud music going.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Between the whirr of the knobby tires and/or the loud clicking of the rear cassette that I always let coast when I'm coming up on people, there is plenty of warning I'm behind them. And I always slow down. If they don't hear me coming its on them. That never happens if they aren't wearing earbuds of some kind, which render any efforts on my part wasted anyway.

A few years ago everyone expected you to say 'left' which seems to be a dead custom nowadays. Its a single bell ding for most riders around here.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
The original post is a good example of why people go to planning meetings and get ebikes banned.

Thanks for nothing.
No that is mostly common practice with analog bike riders. I agree its an assholey attitude and a peculiar thing to be bragging about, but its not something thats going to affect ebikes more than it is anything else. If anything the ebikers are more the Polyannas by a vast margin when it comes to the little bells.
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
Also, there are some people, I am one, who haven't ever been on official trails. I was walking on one and heard a metallic sound. I'd never heard it before. I did know what a bike bell sounded like, but this twang sound? Then I was startled by a cyclist going by.

Where I live, I use my bell sometimes while laughing and telling the people, who are not even close to getting run over, that I don't get to use it much so thank you for letting me see if it works. It is all done cheerily and they laugh.
 

JedidiahStolzfus

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Lancaster, PA
I ring my bell with enough distance that I can observe the people to determine if they heard me or not. Regardless if they did, I slow down and pass them with enough space so as to not startle them too badly. I figure, I don't want to be passed by cars close and at a high rate of speed, pedestrians probably don't want to be startled and passed fast either.

If they have dogs on a leash, I'll take my time to make sure they have control of the dog and pull the leash up. If the dog is a the leash's length, then I'll pass at a distance greater than the leash. Normally the dog hears and reacts to the bell before the person does.

I'm not sure which is worse, the earbud zombies, or the women's group walkers with their oversized strollers taking up the entire width of the path and ignoring what's around them. There aren't a lot of paths in this area, so I don't spend a lot of time on them. The paths that are here don't really lead anywhere useful.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
How to win friends and influence people.


You never know how a scared person will react. While commuting and just using a bell and "on your left", I have scared people and been cussed out while on a city path. "You f'n idiot!" In other words, 'why did you scare the crap out of me while I wasn't paying attention. How do you expect me to hear that crappy little bell when I have ear buds on?'

Not a fan of the scare, no fun.
 

jabberwocky

Well-Known Member
Many years ago, I rang my bell and passed a middle aged woman running with giant Beats-style earphones on. Stopped at an intersection a few hundred yards ahead, and when she caught up to me she started berating me for not calling my pass. I commented that I did, and rang my bell, and she just grumbled for a while about how my bell needed to be louder. Theres just no pleasing some people. :/
 

Tom@WashDC

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Loudoun County, VA.
Many years ago, I rang my bell and passed a middle aged woman running with giant Beats-style earphones on. Stopped at an intersection a few hundred yards ahead, and when she caught up to me she started berating me for not calling my pass. I commented that I did, and rang my bell, and she just grumbled for a while about how my bell needed to be louder. Theres just no pleasing some people. :/
So true Jabberwocky. I have enthusiastically resigned myself to the fact that I cannot count upon pedestrians along the trail to be cognizant of my approach. The level of situational awareness among pedestrians seems to be distributed in a stable ratio. It seems to be about a 50/50 distribution of pedestrians that are aware of their surroundings, and pedestrians that are oblivious to their surroundings. When I say "oblivious, I mean dangerously oblivious! Some may dispute the ratio, but I do believe it to be stable within a geographic area. So the ever present "oblivious pedestrians" must be dealt with in a safe manner.

I have ridden for two years, utilizing the Sena Bluetooth Communication helmet with my friend. The hands free communication has allowed us to experiment with pedestrians and their responses to various types of alerts using voice, bells, whistles, and road noise. I have the loudest decibel (127db) bike horn that I can find, and a front flashing light so bright, that some people comment when shielding their eyes, "are you trying to make me go blind"?
When following each other, the rear biker is able to gauge the response of pedestrians(s) to alerts, or no alerts by overhearing them, and observing their behavior. (side note: Male and Female couples are the most fun*). We have tried all types of alerts, non-alerts, at various speeds and proximity. We've ridden at times giving a loud warning to everyone. We've ridden at times offering no warning, just gliding by.

Most every pedestrians reaction is discussed, and sometimes they are quite amusing. Women tend to scream when startled, and then they laugh goofily once they come to their senses. We have passed thousands of pedestrians with dogs on leash (or not), holding hands, the elderly, kissing couples, mom's pushing baby carriages while toting three children on the trail, loose children and teens, and of course, the ubiquitous music listener wearing state of the art noise cancelling headphones.

I come away with these observations, cognizant that in the future I will most likely refine my observations.

1. Upon approaching a pedestrian on the same trail, slow down to a speed of 6 mph within the distance of 25 feet from pedestrian. After passing the pedestrian, proceed at speed. This principal is similar to that found in boating laws, wherein a boat must slow down to a "no-wake speed" when within a 100 foot distance to a swimmer.

2. On giving the alert? Yes, give the alert, but watch out, it's a crapshoot.



*The humor that is born out of our conversations using these bluetooth helmets, is priceless.