The Chainlink

Sorry if a discussion like this was already started, but I couldn't find a recent one. 


I'd love to hear people's opinions on passing people in the bike lane.  This summer I've encountered an endless number of people that pass either on the right (with no notice) , or VERY closely on the left (without announcing themselves).  I don't mind if people pass on the left without ringing their bell or saying on their left, as long as they are in the next lane or a few feet away.  While I do enjoy the feeling of my heart leaping into my throat, I prefer to save that feeling for things like: riding roller coasters, surfing and boogie boarding, and watching scary movies, not for when another cyclist buzzes me in the bike lane during my morning commute.  Its commuting not bike polo!


I only mention it because I let another cyclist know proper passing etiquette this morning, and was soundly berated for even mentioning it.  I know we are supposed to be "all in this together," but that is not going to stop me from calling out someone when they are being unsafe.    Truth is, a collision with another cyclist hurts too.





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Not everyone adhere's to the laws of the land.  The truth is for every rude speed raging schmuck in a car out only for themselves, there's one of those in the bike community as well.  You see them flying through busy intersections pissing off motorists, who in turn take it out on every other biker.  But for the record, a call out of "on your left" or "on your right" is usually best.  On a slightly similar topic, the worst is when a slower rider, while at a stop light, comes up and cuts in front of you forcing you to pass the person in traffic.  Ugghh. 

It's very annoying. The only useful advice I can give to avoid the 'thrill' is to be prepared for that kind of behavior,  and be more aware of it on the busier streets with bike lanes. It's a lot more common in the warmer months when inexperienced, yet aggressive riders flock the roads.


In terms of discussion, there probably needs to be some kind of publicity (ATA?) regarding this type of etiquette. Not sure how the publicity would be presented, but perhaps some kind of a billboard?

On a gross basis, and certainly on a percentage basis, there are more rude cyclists in this town than rude automobile drivers.

As a starting point, I'd say the same that we ask of cars ... at least 3 feet distance. It usually bugs me when other riders pass me on the right but if there are no parked cars then I'm more ok with it.


The cyclist from this morning probably wouldn't hesitate to berate or flip off a motorist who was driving unsafely. Don't dish it out if you can't take it!  

I like the idea of a billboard on Milwaukee Ave!
I'm not very fast so I always stay to the right, in case someone wants to pass. The problems I encounter are folks that weave or ride just left of center but don't seem to hear or understand my "on your left". I am always reluctant to scold someone because I can just see getting a flat tire right after a smart remark.  I would be there,dead in the water, and they would ride by like that kid on the Simpsons..."Ha Ha.
The Rules of the Road state you aren't supposed to pass on the right, so I don't know why cyclists would be exempted - pass on the left, and make sure you aren't close enough to be sharing sweat or other bodily fluids with your fellow cyclists.  Some cyclists really do need to get straight that riding a bike does not mean you get go at any speed you want to, regardless of traffic conditions.
My fav are the slow cyclists that never stop for lights or stop signs. I'll pass them at some point and then hit a light. They roll past me into the intersection and now i get stuck behind them until i can pass again. If there is a biker stopped at the light, stop behind them.

Gabe said:
 If there is a biker stopped at the light, stop behind them.

We say this a lot in media interviews, "there are good people and bad people out there, no matter how you get around...we encourage everyone to respect others, obey the laws and stay aware while traveling."


We're working on a cool new education brochure, "Everyday Biking." (hopefully available later this month).


Here's some of our biking in traffic tips, which definitely apply to riding with other people on bikes.


By operating your bike according to the basic principles of traffic, you will be easier for motorists to see and accommodate.

  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.
  • Communicate with other drivers and signal your intentions using hand signals.
  • Don’t ride on the sidewalk (it’s illegal in Chicago if you’re 12 years or older)
  • Ride with confidence and know when and how to “take the lane.” Always scan over your shoulder and signal before moving to the center of the lane.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing, use appropriate lighting and reflectors at night in conjunction with reflective clothing to maximize your visibility. It’s the law (625 ILCS 5/11-1507[a], [b]. Chi. Municip. Code. 9-52-080)


Ethan Spotts, Active Trans

I've given up on expecting bikers to have manners or a clue.  I was knocked off my bike by a guy on a bike with headphones on who, even after dinging my bell and shouting, just drifted all over the road as he rocked out to his smooth jams.  I tried twice to pass him but he would just drift over; on the third try I got far enough in passing him that he hit me when he drifted over because I could not slow down or move in time.


Best part is this... He was pissed at me for the accident.


Not for long mind you; I explained some things about the dangers of riding with headphones, passing etiquette and why you need to be able to hear the world around you as well as the dangers of knocking me off my bike.

I couldn't agree more, Kevin.


I ride out of the door zone, period, and have no problems taking a lane to overtake a slower rider; I will not pass on the right side, typically.


Also, if a rider stopped at a light in front of me is riding single speed or doesn't know enough to shift to a smaller gear inch, like in a car, than I have no problems stopping in front of them as I know I'll be faster off the line and through the intersection before they wind up their legs fast enough to stay upright.


Time for a Bloody Mary with my breakfast BLT.

Kevin C said:

On a gross basis, and certainly on a percentage basis, there are more rude cyclists in this town than rude automobile drivers.


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