The Chainlink

I visited Portland recently and spent a lot of time rolling around neighborhoods with some very well-connected bicycle advocates who know everyone in PDX from the Farmer's Market vendors to the coffee shop baristas. I noticed a lot of people smiling and ringing their bells or honking at us, NOT because they were passing us or thought we were being dicks, but because they just wanted to say hi.

Back in Chicago, I thought this was a pretty cool tradition, and I notice other cyclists saying hello this way occasionally. Just the other day I was carting my milk crate to Trader Joe's and I exchanged simultaneous bell dings with some BMX teenagers (sorry, kids, but I didn't even date high schoolers when I was in high school. Thanks for the lascivious grins, though).

So, is this a neat way of saying "yay for us!" to other cyclists, or is it super annoying? I know sometimes I'll get honked at by a car and I'll be terrified someone is about to run me over or I'm being a huge asshole and I'll look behind me and some Trixie is giving me a thumbs-up and calling "Nice bike!" Thanks for the compliment, but you know you gave me a heart attack, right?

NI don't mind when honks or catcalls come from other cyclists, partially out of some possibly misguided sense of solidarity, and partially because unlike cars they don't have the ability to murder me with little effort.

So; if another person on a bike rings their bell or honks their horn at you, do you "brrrrrriiiiiiiing!" back, or do you get pissed off? Should this be standard practice for two cyclists to say hello?

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I think a smile and wave are less likely to be misunderstood. I like the idea, but maybe it's better to keep the bell as a mild alert rather than a greeting.
The bell is all we have as a warning so I agree it should be used for that purpose only. I do not think the bell is enough because cars are likely not to hear it.

Michael M said:
I think a smile and wave are less likely to be misunderstood. I like the idea, but maybe it's better to keep the bell as a mild alert rather than a greeting.
I have one of those 2-tone bells and I often greet other cyclists with it. Always tickled when someone rings their bell (or honks their honky-horn) at me. Win-win.
Why does a woman always think they want to date you just because you are friendly and ring your bell ? I installed a car horn on the tall bike because I saw that Rik did it and it was cool. I only use it for the cars and scaring little children, but next time you pass by I will also make an exception.
It's always cool to ring your bell. Always...
Someone greeting you on your bike is not always a come-on. However, as a ladygirl, I get a lot of creepy dudes giving me uncomfortable "compliments" and asking me to party and and screaming uncomprehensible things at me out of windows. It is honestly not an "I'm so sexy," thing; I just feel that male cyclists get screamed at just as much, but in different ways.

A male cyclist might get "Get off the road!" where a woman in a dress on a mixte might get a whistle and "hey, beautiful. " Both are unwelcome, unwanted harassment.

The question is: is another cyclist honking/beeping/ringing at you unwelcome harassment, or awesome?
I like to ring my bell back and to ring it at people so i think its awesome. yes people do use it as a sign of harassment but there are lots that use it just to be friendly so i don't let the ones that do it for harassment stand in the way of a nice friendly bell ring.
I don't have bell(yet) so I put my hand out like motorcyclists do or flip my hand up at the wrist to say hi (with a smile of course). If I had a bell though Id be a ringer as well :-)

if a car does it, unless I know I'm in the wrong I either ignore it or my finger goes up. not because Im angry but because its habit i guess. Im trying to stop though
"misguided sense of solidarity?"

How unfortunate.
I find alerting riders that your passing on their left is usually more dangerous, especially if your traveling at higher speeds. Most novice riders will actually look over their left shoulder steering the bike with them. If they are holding a steady line on the right side of the lane, I just buzz past with a nod. When cars honk at me I just smile and wave, sometimes saying "have a nice day" just to let em know in a condescending way what a moron they are being. Instead of being confrontational, I just do what I like to do...ride my bike.
Michael A said:
I find alerting riders that your passing on their left is usually more dangerous, especially if your traveling at higher speeds. Most novice riders will actually look over their left shoulder steering the bike with them. If they are holding a steady line on the right side of the lane, I just buzz past with a nod....

This approach strikes me as rude and also dangerous. How can you assume that the "steady line" will remain so especially on Chicago's glass strewn and pothole ravaged streets? I hold a mostly steady line, but I often swerve, sometimes rather suddenly to avoid glass and other crap. We are not a peloton when we are commuting.

And anyway, what is the percentage of novice riders? I'm guessing that novices are generally in the minority of riders.

I ring my bell (it is a single dinger) two or three times as I'm passing so that the passee can get a sense of my approach. As I'm passing I generally add a greeting and a smile. I could see how this could get tiresome though if I rode on Milwaukee or something.
I have a horn the length of my forearm on my roadie so i don't toot it unless it's mass or i'm gonna get creamed. However, when i lock my bike and have a smoke a couple feet away and anyone that walks buy is welcome to honk my horn. ;-)

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