Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On Your Left

Is it that hard to say?

After reading Vanilla's recent post on cyclists, I decided I'd pile on the anti-cyclist rhetoric. It's not like I haven't done it before.

My main issue with cyclists is when they don't warn you that they are approaching from behind. Granted, cyclists are not the only guilty culprits of this anti-notification trend. I've had runners spook me on the path when they suddenly appeared in my peripheral to pass -- not very often, mind you, but it's happened. However, it seems cyclists are a large percentage of the pass-but-don't-tell population. I'm guessing it's because they don't get passed as often and don't realize just how quiet they are.

Even if you're not a lead-footed runner like me, it's hard to hear anything coming from behind you. And that's true whether you are walking, running, biking or hula-hooping.

Have you ever noticed how the human ear is oriented to hear things in front of and to the side of the body and not so much to the rear? The pinna, for most people, is angled away from our backs. Furthermore, if an object is approaching at a high rate of speed, the Doppler Effect reduces our ability to hear it and react in a timely manner.

Physically and physics-ally, we runners can't hear you ass-hat cyclists (or you jerkface faster runners) zipping up on our backs. We'd get out of your way if we could hear you. Just remember that when you have to swerve off the path and end up flying over your handlebars because I didn't move when you didn't say "on your left." Stop being such a douche bucket and let me know when you're passing. And do it before I can see you out of the corner of my eye.

13 comments:

Xenia said...

I'm finding all this anti-cyclist rhetoric rather amusing. Cycling in this town is a primary form of transportation so most bikes are fitted with annoying bells which just make the cyclists more assholic. However, a large proportion of pedestrians are total dickwads as well, so it sorta evens out in the wash, I guess.

Carolina John said...

i have a tough time hearing cars coming up behind me when i'm on the bike. especially the newer hybrid and electric cars, they are so much quiter.

i always say on your left and car back when i'm on the bike, and rarely have to pass people while running. still, it irritates me when runners/cyclists don't stay to the right. I don't want to have to pass people on the right, and it's just poor etiquette.

Vanilla said...

Personally I think that cyclists should not be allowed to pass until they've yelled "on your left" and I've given them permission to pass with a hand signal. I have a specific hand signal in mind.

webzealot said...

Here hear! Or is it hear hear?

Whatever. Most cyclists are too busy adjusting their stack of LIVESTRONG rubber bracelets to pay attention to what they might be about to mow down. Next time one flies past you unannounced just scream "Lance was a DIRTY CHEATER" and they will fall into a twitching and slobbering conniption that will throw them over the handle bars without the need for you to break stride.

Spike said...

perhaps this anger is better suited by throwing things at bikers...I suggest you throw a huge rock at the tour de France cyclists on your tv.

Lauren said...

You should really run along a bayou road. Then no one is ever behind you because the road curves so much. Plus the cyclists in my neighborhood tend to travel in packs of what I assume are teams so they're usually chatting. I just think their douche buckets because of all that spandex. Thanks for the anatomy lesson though.

Nitmos said...

No matter how softly, smothly or friendly I say "on your left", the person I'm passing jumps in fright. It's a pretty funny phenomenon. Almost as if they thought a 17 minute mile couldn't possibly be eclipsed.

Ms. V. said...

I had a whole trail-full of jackholes like that on the River City Half. I seriously was like, hello...you don't see me?

The guy with the Coors logo was particularly intriguing, as I wanted a beer...anything at that point, and it was scary!

joyRuN said...

Mmmm... my fave are cyclists who not only fail to warn me, but then decide to try to clip my legs with their pedals.

Some guy named John said...

Bless me, for I have sinned ....

Yeah, I have to admit being guilty of passing without notification, both while running and while cycling.

The thing is, I almost never get passed myself. That's not a boast, it's just that I live in a community with almost no other runners or cyclists. On those rare occasions when someone passes me, I appreciate the friendly "on your left," and I would think that anyone would. I do startle many, many fitness walkers daily when I pass them at my local lake. Wouldn't any sensible person want to avoid being startled?

But I find that when I say "on your left" when I'm about to pass someone on my bike or trusty Asics training flats, they more often than not give me a dirty scowl of a look. I've even had several people tell me to go to hell when I warn them of an impending pass. So, it's a dilemma for me: Rather than doing unto others as I'd have them do unto me, I do unto others as they seem to want for me to do unto them.

Al's CL Reviews said...

I am the slowest cyclist, and I always yell when I'm passing the walkers/runners. The fact they don't move, well it warrants "ON YOUR LEFT, AGAIN!" louder.

I have almost crashed into faster cyclists who do not yell this as they are passing me while I am passing a walker/runner. I really don't know why it is that hard to say.

webzealot said...

Not to revisit this, but, uh, I guess I am... I was running on a nearby trail today and it dawned on me that the running community may have done this to itself.

Of the two dozen or so runners I passed in either direction, I would guess nine out of ten had headphones on.

So maybe cyclists can't be blamed for not wanting to shout at the iPod wearing runners who aren't going to hear them anyway...

Kristy said...

Reading the above comment - yes, a lot of runners wear headphones. However, many of us have the volume set very low so as to be aware of what is going on around us. Whenever I hear someone signaling, I always say thank you, or wave my hand so that the would be passer knows that I've acknowledged their signal.

Not to mention, is it really that hard to say, "On your left?" Even if the person doesn't hear it, those of us that do appreciate the courtesy.