To My Cyclist Friends on the Capital Crescent Trail

I’ll start with a positive and thank every cyclist who uses a bell to let me know I’m about to be passed. Your bell alerts me with a relaxing sound that soothes the spirit and makes my walk through the woods all the more pleasant. It brings to mind Mary Poppins riding through a London park and sending a “ding” to the kindly old cobbler she passes every morning.

To the rest of you: I’ve been biting my tongue about this because I know it’s a cliche for us lowly pedestrians to complain about the ferocity with which you yell, “On your left!”

Your shouts are an easy target for mocking but it’s mostly undeserved because you’re just looking out for us. You know no one likes being yelled at but hey, safety before civility. You have no idea how good our hearing is, or if we’re wearing an iPod, or if we’re clueless. Besides, you’re in the middle of a heart-pounding workout so who can blame you if you come off a little too fierce?

On top of that you’re a naturally intense Type A kind of person. Your life is too fast-paced to have time to throw in a gentle “Good morning” or “Hi there.” You’re movers and shakers who would never be able to fake the meek tone of the average pedestrian’s voice, so why bother trying?

You know that the most obnoxious of warnings is still more polite than no warning at all. Better to be the jerk who avoids an accident than the nice guy who puts you in the hospital. You’re totally right about that.

Now, with all that out of the way, there is one thing that still needs to be said. Some of you really do need to learn that there’s a line between raising your voice to a reasonable level and displaying psychosis.

Such as the well intentioned cyclist this morning. I was moseying along on the very right-hand edge of the trail when someone, doing a great Randy Savage impersonation, deafens me with, “On your left! TWO BIKES!”

Yeah, ok. Thanks guy. Good thing I was told it was two bikes coming because I had been planning to swan dive across the path the instant the first one had passed.

Please cyclists, buy yourself a bell.

9 Comments so far

  1. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

    When I was riding back in California, I had one of those clown horns. That was the best.

  2. wayan (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

    Which would you rather me to do as I zip along a trail:

    call out to you with a “On Your Left” said in slightly raised voice so you’ll hear me, or almost a yell if your iPoded…


    for me to take one hand of my handlebars and look down to find the bell, ring it while only using one hand to steer, and then try to grab my handlebars again…


    hold my handlebars in the middle, creating a very destabilized turning capacity, so I can ring a bell with my thumb?

  3. Mike (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

    I didn’t realize that ringing a bell was such a mentally taxing and distracting thing for some of you. I stand corrected.

  4. Mik (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

    As a cyclist who uses that trail during her lunch hour, and who was recently kicked by a rollerblader who took it upon himself to wear headphones (but hey, he was sharing his music with those around him) as well as take up the WHOLE BLOODY TRAIL (there are usage rules for a reason) I find the fact that you expect us to ring a freaking bell (which chances are, you won’t hear if you’re grooving to you ‘pod) obnoxious.

    The cyclists that I ride with are polite, not obnoxious, we pass those who heed the “on your left” warning (said in a normal voice, or an out of breath one if it’s me) and thank them as we cycle past. We usually ride single file, and mock those obnoxious enough to ride side-by-side. Even I, as a cyclist, become extremely annoyed by other cyclists who insist on riding two-by-two when they pass me.

    If the rules of the trail are observed, chances are everyone who uses the trail will be happy. The only time I’ve raised my voice when saying the obligatory “on your left” is to Mister too-short-shorts-rollerblading-granddad-with-the-80s-style-headphones, who didn’t budge an inch until he kicked me.

  5. Edward (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

    I bet you want me to slow, stop and whisper breathily into your little earsie weasie that I’M ON YOUR LEFT, NINNY

  6. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

    Wow, Edward, how many runners have you run over this week trying to do that?

  7. EdwardZ (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

    Not a one Tom. Ask me rather how many times have I had runners step to the left or not hear me because they were on their cells or Ipods, talking with their buddy, communing with nature or something other than paying attention. I will always yield to a runner, they owe me at least the curtesy of listening for me giving them warning to keep them from hurting both of us. The least of my concerns is that they don’t like being jarred from their gentle day dreams.

  8. Kevin W. (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

    As a cyclist also road/trail I ride the Crescent @ lunch time almost daily I apply both methods when you’re not wearing head phones (which is very dangerous by yourself)we do not know how load the volume is so we speak up & early on, but this does not work all the time by nearly wiping out last week with an elderly man who did not hear any of the 4 guys in front me while walking down the center of the lane we were in I had to stop very fast & skid off the road to avoid hitting anybody (Fixed Gear Bike)but when it’s calm I approach softly on your left Ladies,Gentleman or Guys

  9. misschatter (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

    I had a bell – everyone ignored it. So I tossed it in the garbage when I got my next bike. I used to politly and cheerily say “On your left”, until I was also ignored frequently, mostly by walkers gabbing and spanning the width of the trail or clueless tourists. So my apologies to those who don’t like hearing someone shout, “On Your Left!”, but did it occur to you that cyclists who have been doing it for a while just learn that’s the most effective way to cover all their bases and insure they don’t hurt anyone, including themselves, in the process?

    Besides, the thumb pushing thing on bells can be a bit glitchy and get stuck. Plus, my thumb goes numb in the winter, making it even less useful.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.