The Chainlink

When you give a wave, you let your presence be known. A wave shows a state of well being. The nature in which it was given alone can signal excitement, distress or pomp. And for years it has been a simple gesture between bikers, though in this case, the gas-fueled variety.
Every summer, it is hard to miss the subtle gestures given between motorcyclists along the nations highways. The lowered wave in acknowledgment of a peer, the highway handshake. While they may never know each other personally, they share a common interest, bond, and threat. The interesting fact though, is how much I noticed this as child looking out the back window, and continue to till this day. Think of this: you are at the party and the hottie across the room just sent a wave in your direction. Whether it was for you or not, you noticed, right? Granted, while we bikers are all hot, we may not draw the attention like the hottie we've been staring at. But I would have to believe, the same way that the brotherhood of hogs gets noticed with a simple gesture, that we too could raise the awareness of bicyclists around the city.
We send waves to the cars at critical mass, but how about waves to each other as we pass by. We already do it to the people we know, but all of us that ride share a common interest, our own safety. Most of us are already aware of the bicyclists we pass going the other way, or get passed by. With some acknowledgment between us, it could make drivers more aware of our presence, after all, they will be wondering who you're waving at. At least then we will have gotten them to think about who else is on the road.
I don't know how this would ever catch on, but it seems like it would be a valuable tool in bicycle awareness. Drivers might catch on to the waves being thrown about. Maybe a kid in the backseat will grow up with a greater respect and understanding of the modern bicyclist after seeing the two wheeled man giving a happy hand. After all, it couldn't hurt the camaraderie within our community, and in the end, it even gives you an excuse when the hottie you're staring at just happens to be the biker passing you by.

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i started doing this a while ago, also noting the MC culture camaraderie. however, i couldnt help but notice that the 'cycling community' ego and pretentiousness prevailed. (remember the spitter guy?) wouldnt mind giving it another go tho. and if that fails, can we move on to 'shitty cyclist tire slashing sundays'?
I like that - "shitty cyclist tire slashing Sundays". On a different note iggi, did you ever get your bianchi fixed up?

iggi said:
i started doing this a while ago, also noting the MC culture camaraderie. however, i couldnt help but notice that the 'cycling community' ego and pretentiousness prevailed. (remember the spitter guy?) wouldnt mind giving it another go tho. and if that fails, can we move on to 'shitty cyclist tire slashing sundays'?
At what point does the frequency of passing cyclists make waving impractical? The more rarely I see another cyclist (like in the winter, as Eric said), the more likely I am to wave, but as cycling becomes more prevalent, waving becomes a little silly, I think. I mean, it's nice and all, but what if every driver was expected to wave at every other driver? You see the absurdity.

It's kinda like my days in at a big midwestern university. I noticed every black person almost always acknowledged each other black person they passed on campus, because of the minority status, I assume. I'm happy to say that in terms of cyclists on the road, I'm satisfied that the number of bikes I see on the road has reached a critical mass (no pun intended) at which waving is no longer an expectation.

But if I see you wave at me, I'll wave back.
I will wave, but if I got to keep both hands on the wheel in certain circumstances don't hold it against me. I would also say, don't get too uptight about it if others don't wave back. I usually do the nod and get a disappointingly small response back. I was waving all night tonight and it did make me feel better, to second an earlier response. I like the idea of it!

not yet. might have a fucked crank arm. looking at a bike today tho

DonRay A.K.A. Zesty said:
I like that - "shitty cyclist tire slashing Sundays". On a different note iggi, did you ever get your bianchi fixed up?

iggi said:
i started doing this a while ago, also noting the MC culture camaraderie. however, i couldnt help but notice that the 'cycling community' ego and pretentiousness prevailed. (remember the spitter guy?) wouldnt mind giving it another go tho. and if that fails, can we move on to 'shitty cyclist tire slashing sundays'?
What about Diny Your Bell?

http://dingyourbell.org/manifesto

Same idea of building camaraderie and community. Just with a bit of bell ringing. I do not have a bell on my current bike. I do give a big head nod - often that is ignored though. I never know if it is because of a lack of reciprocity or to my nod being unnoticed. I like the spirit of a nod, wave, bell ding.
Now the bell, there's a better alternative.

Not only does it not require taking a hand off the bars, but it also does not require already having the attention of another cyclist, unlike a subtle head nod or raised finger. But perhaps the most attractive aspect of a bell ring greeting is that it reminds all others within earshot of our friendly presence!

I haven't read the manifesto, but plan to try out the bell ring greeting ASAP.
i've always enjoyed seeing motorbicyclist do thier little cool wave.

on my bike, i always try to lift my left pointy finger, pointing towards the other biker across the street, as if to say, you're it. but then i realized they might not even see that gesture. but i still try.

i don't always wave because i like to have my hands near the brakes. i'll probably ring a bell when i get one. you might think that ringing a bell all the time would desensitize people, but then i was thinking that the bell ringing might save my life. if i'm ringing the bell at every biker, everyone on the street/sidewalk will know there's a biker around. and bells are pleasant sounding...unlike horns.

more recently, i've been trying to wave at every cop, bus and taxi driver. i want them to be on the biker's side...not literally, just, you know, on our team, not knocking us over by running into our side. :)

also, if i notice a driver goes way around me, i give a thumbs up, hoping they'll see it when/if they look in the mirror to see if they've cleared me. again, i doubt they see this, but i also do it to show the next driver coming up on my side that i appreciate a wider area of separation.

i think chicago can come up with a uniquely cool biker acknowledgement, rather than a wave. how about making your shoulders bigger, as in the city of big shoulders, by shrugging? :)
I've noticed that on the North Branch Trail, people riding the opposite direction actually say hello!
I like the waving idea and will start today, I'm not waiting just for Wednesdays.
When I can't release the bar, I usually raise two fingers, like a peace sign (the idealism of my teen-years).
yes. the peace sign. who can argue with that?

Michael J Blane said:
I've noticed that on the North Branch Trail, people riding the opposite direction actually say hello!
I like the waving idea and will start today, I'm not waiting just for Wednesdays.
When I can't release the bar, I usually raise two fingers, like a peace sign (the idealism of my teen-years).
I rocked the wave on Friday and Saturday, and I was surprisingly better received on Friday than on Saturday. Both daytime late A.M. rides. Both times people riding into the wind seemed more cordial than the folks riding with the wind (where I would expect the exact opposite).

An interesting experiment I plan to continue when riding by myself.

This Lazarus thread brought to you by Bike Snob NYC 12/18/12:

Snubbed: Season's Greetings, Or Lack Thereof

Hi!

So you know how in the United Britain they have this show on TV called "Top Gear?"  If you don't, it's a show about cars, and they made a shitty American version of it even though it was already in English.  Well, yesterday a reader forwarded me an essay by one of the "Top Gear" guys about the bicycles:


I liked the essay.  In particular, I liked this:

The bicycle was without doubt one of the greatest inventions ever.

And this:

Only the ability to ride a bicycle remains with us after decades of inattention, and that's because riding one taps into some innate understanding of basic physics. A bicycle really is an extension of both your body and your psyche.

And this:

Bicycles should never be regulated, they should never be subject to road tax, they should not require third-party insurance and competence to ride a bicycle should not be tested. It tests itself, because if you can't do it, you have a crash. Bicycles are the first rung on the personal-transport ladder and should be free at the point of use.

But I'm not so sure about this:


Cyclists have become miserabilists.

Several times a week, I go for a bike ride alongside the river near where I live. It's good for me. Or at least it is until I meet another cyclist coming the other way. "Morning," I chirp, cheerfully, because I am cheerful, filling my lungs with the airy elixir and freeing up my tired old bones. Nothing.

I was keeping score for a while, but I've long since lost count. It stood at something like - May, 8,000; other cyclists, nil. I supposed I might just be coming across as a weirdo. So I then tried smiling instead. Still nothing.

There are numerous great debates that rage within the topic of cycling.  Obviously, the king of all of these is the Helment Debate.  Then, just after that (I'm not going to continue with the royalty metaphors, I know nothing about royalty because I'm not from a primitive monarchy like England, I'm from an oligarchy south of Canada), you have the stupid equipment and frame material debates, like Dick Breaks vs. Tubulers, Crabonium vs. Lugged Aluminium, and Ridged vs. Supsension, or whatever the hell idiots bicker about on forums nowadays.  And then, after that, you have all the etiquette stuff, the main one being whether or not to wave to, or otherwise greet, other cyclists.

For some reason, many cyclists get really snitty if you don't wave to them or return their wave, and frankly I think this is completely ridiculous.  Sure, a friendly greeting is nice, and if you receive one you should return it, but at the same time there are a million legitimate reasons not to do either.  Here are just a few that I feel are perfectly acceptable:

--You didn't see the other rider and therefore were unable to offer a greeting;
--You didn't see the other rider greet you and were therefore unable to return the greeting;
--You were preoccupied with a shifting issue or other mechanical problem because you don't read enough Internet forums and you bought the wrong component group;
--You think the other rider looks like he's probably a dick;
--You know the other rider and he's definitely a total dick;
--You like the rider OK but you think the club they ride with is stupid;
--You've had a shitty morning, this is the only time you have to yourself before work, you've got some heavy emotional crap to deal with, and instead of leaving you alone with your thoughts complete doofuses are smiling and waving at you every thirty seconds;
--You DON'T FUCKING FEEL LIKE IT, OKAY!?!

Just to clarify, I do wave to other cyclists.  I just don't do it all the time.  Sure, it makes sense to wave to another cyclist on a country road in order to acknowledge your mutual humanity, but it would be ridiculous to wave to every commuter on the Manhattan Bridge in the same way you'd have to be a complete kook to greet every single person on the subway.  (Sure, I do it, but I'm a complete kook.)  And so what if I'm riding my Fred machine on a country road and I don't greet you because I'm deep, deep, deep in my Fredliness?  If you're old enough to ride by yourself on a country road do you really need complete strangers to coddle you and make you feel special and loved?  I'd argue that you don't.

I also maintain it's perfectly fine to scowl instead of wave in certain circumstances.  For example, I often ride the mountain bike trails in Cunningham Park, Queens. (Or at least I used to before I moved to wherever the hell it is I live now, which is thankfully not Queens.)  Now, I couldn't care less whether or not people wear helments.  However, in Cunningham Park the Parks Departmentwants you to wear a helment, and I think that's a pretty fair trade considering they let these people build mountain bike trails in the first place.  So when I'm riding in there and I see some goofball helmetless singletrack salmon in a velour tracksuit riding a dual-suspension bike the wrong way on a one-way trail you can be sure I flash him the sort of withering look I generally reserve for Bichon Frisés.  (I always scowl witheringly at Bichon Frisés on the street, it's delightful to watch them recoil.)

Anyway, all I'm saying is that waving is complicated, and that unless someone actually gives you the finger you really shouldn't worry about it.  If you can't handle someone not returning your wave or your smile then don't offer it in the first place, and that way we can finally evolve into the cold, introverted, smartphone-addled society we were meant to be.  Hey, it's 2012.  Maybe all those people James May thinks are snubbing him are just waiting to get home so they can "like" him on Facebook.

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