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I've been "shoaled" and I just don't understand it. I've never done it myself. Is there anyone in our midst that is a shoaler or shoaler reformed?

I believe the definition is: passing the faster rider (that just past you) at the light while he/she is politely set back from the intersection and waiting for the light only to be passed by the faster rider once more after the light changes. (please correct me if I'm wrong)

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I'll shoal if I know I'm faster than the other cyclists. That wasn't intended to sound arrogant. I would rather get ahead of the slower cyclists before the intersection than pass them with the risk of being hit by a car. 

My approach is the same as Geoffrey's, though I'll make an occasional exception for a person riding a Divvy in full business attire. With all due respect, there's no way that they're faster than me (a daily commuter on a road bike), so that's not shoaling.

Now for more controversial statements: If you're getting shoaled by the same person several times in a single commute, then you're not actually faster than them. You average speed is essentially the same. I would not pass you at a red light under those circumstances, but it makes little difference either way. If they're repeatedly passing you with a full head of steam just as the light turns green, then they are not shoaling you. They're just using their experience with that particular route to time the lights so that they don't have to waste energy by constantly stopping and starting.

Eh... I'll buy half of that. It is true that your average speed is the same if you end up at the stop lights at the same time every time. But most of the city doesn't operate on the "green wave" principle, and so no matter how much experience you have with a particular route you won't be cruising effortlessly every time. That aside, it's a basic issue of respect. Even if we like to pretend we're exempt from traffic flow, its principles still apply to bikes. If traffic ahead of you is just getting going, you slow down and go with it.

Here's an example: in many dense areas the lights just suck. Westbound on Huron every day, I've got a lot of energy pent up from sitting inside all day and so I like to do 20. Most other cyclists there are in the 13-16 range, but there's so many lights that we all end up at the intersections together. If they get ahead of me at every single light then it's still shoaling. If you're going to make a pass, you'd better have the legs to make it stick even if our average speed (including stops) is the same.


Shoaling is not legal terminology to the best of my knowledge, the issue IMO is what is proper passing technique.

Intersections are dangerous enough without adding more complexity to them. IMO it doesn't matter if you are faster or slower, that's really as irrelevant as whether a Porsche driver has the right to blow by a Yugo.

You have the legal right to go as fast as conditions will safely allow (assuming you can't break 30 mph or whatever the posted limit is), so that's the issue.

I'd say if you are squirreling up next to someone in their bike lane, you're doing it wrong, same as if you were a vehicle. If you're passing someone on the right, you're doing it wrong, same as if you were a vehicle.



My daily commute used to be so boring before I figured this out. I am that Divvy rider in full business attire. Thanks for my due respect Maurice, but I've actually managed to go faster than every other "daily commuter on a road bike" who shoals me so far. Maybe because I'm a mountain biker and have the ability to go explosive on the Divvy's big gear. Or Maybe because my commute is quite short and I can muster the interval training. Or even maybe its because from one light to the other, the road bike doesn't have that much an advantage.

Anyway. It's been a lesson in humility moving to this city. I've raced national downhill races, cross country races, marathon races and also used to do 3,000 foot vertical climbs 5 times a week back in Mexico just a couple of years ago. But that "daily commuter on a road bike" absolutely always thinks I'm a noob because I'm a Divvy rider in full business attire. 

That's fine. I take pride in the fact that I haven't partaken in any shoaling as of yet. No matter what bike I'm in and what bike other people are riding. I haven't crowded the crosswalk either. Practicing Zen breathing on every light not to go crazy on "daily commuter road bikers" like you Maurice ;) 

You sir, are one of the people I call a "Divvy Blaster" (trademark pending).

I roll slow in the morning so I get passed by all sorts of cyclists but on the way home I blast the pedals and occasionally a Divvy Blaster will pass me on Milwaukee. It is rare but it does happen.

A few weeks ago I encountered someone on a divvy who popped a wheelie leaving a stoplight and zipped away down Chicago Ave just west of the highway. If I ever find him I believe I owe him a beer.

I never had a hardtail, so I feel like the Divvy will hopefully up my skills. At least its making me remember my flat pedal game. Those bikes are tough and heavy. I've managed to pop wheelies but its pretty hard, I've also dropped them down sets of stairs and they are pretty robust. So much for relying on suspension. Learning all sorts of new stuff haha.

It just makes the commute back home all the more fun. To be honest though, my commute to work is super slow. I'm not a morning person and I don't want to get the full business attire sweaty before the morning meetings so I stand back and let the shoalers go to town. 

Best post all week, cheers!


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