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On yer LEFT!(37 posts)

On yer LEFT!SpoiledBikeDaddy
Jul 21, 2003 6:14 PM
So I took a ride this weekend on the MUT that runs by my backyard. It was beautiful day, so there were lots of folks using the trail - bikers, walkers, rollerbladers, equestrians, etc.

So of all these various groups, who do you think was the most rude and clueless? Here's a hint - it wasn't the recreational bike riders or power walkers with their headphones. It was the hardcore cyclists zooming along at 20+ MPH blowing by people without giving warning or waiting until there was room to pass.

Yeah, I'm talking to you racerboy, with your team kit and chiseled thighs. I'm sorry, does it interrupt your cadence to call out "LEFT" when passing? Does offering others a modicum of courtesy stunt your chances to podium at the next club race? If so, then you really have no business riding on the MUT.

Think about it...
re: On yer LEFT!hatchetman
Jul 21, 2003 7:05 PM
I know what you're talking about. I've been passed many times, sometimes by mere inches, by someone whom I had no idea was there because they didn't warn me and I almost crashed into them. It should be common courtesy to say "on your left" when passing, as it can avoid collisions. You see the same thing when driving. More and more I see people not using their signals. People seem to have the idea that everyone else around them should know what they're going to do. How hard is it to say "on your left" or use a signal on a car? Plus, when I've said "on your left", I've had some cyclists actually insult me. Most say thank you, but some have snide remarks for me. What's up with that? Just my 2 cent rant :P
The worst is when they're in a big group.Spoke Wrench
Jul 21, 2003 7:22 PM
Normally, the first guy leaves a reasonable amount of room when he passes, but subsequent riders seem to creep ever closer. I regularly do a group ride on Monday nights and I regularly get passed by a peleton of riders. I have to say that the group here in St. Charles has been pretty courteous to us slower riders this year. I like that.
re: On yer LEFT!bburgoyne26
Jul 21, 2003 7:34 PM
I can't imagine trying to get a good workout in on our MUT here in Ft. Worth, the Trinity Trails. You can't really expect the general citizen to understand the protocol. Even when I go slowly by pedestrians on the trail and say "on your left" they don't always know what that means. Some jump the other way or act like they are having a heart attack. If you get out during a weekday, you might be able to get in a decent ride, otherwise you are better off finding a good route in the country. I agree that racerboys shouldn't do their thing when the general public are out on the trails.

I also used to get peeved at all the walkers on the track who would take over the inside lanes of the high school track when some of us were trying to run intervals. They just never got it so I learned not to expect so much from the average citizen and don't even go to the track anymore.
Jul 22, 2003 4:51 AM
life's a lot less stressful if you accept that the public will be in public areas.
U R Right - Roadies Stay off the MUTswink
Jul 21, 2003 8:10 PM
MUTs are one of the most dangerous places for roadies to be and it makes no sense for them (I mean us) to ride 18-26 mph on the MUTs! It is one thing to do a "ride and giggle" with the wife and kids. But to do serious training? Come on guys...lets leave the MUTs for the bladers, baby strollers, dog walkers and cruisers. To many variables/obstacles. Lets stay on the roads where we belong where the only known threat is the motorized vehicle!
Roadies ride on ROAD - stay off the trailc722061
Jul 22, 2003 5:01 AM
I am a roadie and I try to avoid trails at all cost. I ride fast and really hate to yell all the time, that disrupts my breathing pattern.
JA commentJohnG
Jul 21, 2003 9:28 PM
More often than not an "on your left" will cause someone to veer to the left. I have seen it numerous times.

I've started to say "Passing." Seems to work better. It's abill
Jul 22, 2003 4:34 AM
little brusque, but if I grace it with a "Good morning," lots of runners and walkers thank me. Slower cyclists don't seem so grateful, but whatever.
no need to say anything.Steve_0
Jul 22, 2003 5:17 AM
I go with "Bike behind", thank them when they move. nmBrooks
Jul 22, 2003 9:20 AM
Preaching to the choirfiltersweep
Jul 22, 2003 4:35 AM
Take your message to's forums where they argue about the best features to look for in headphones while roadbiking ;) Seems a large number of people there view MUTs as the safest place to ride... you will likely be roundly flamed. Your original post would be viewed as a troll. It would be an interesting experiement in the very least...

I don't see any serious roadbikers on the MUTs around here- it is largely the guys wearing no helmets, wearing cotton shorts, riding old old bikes, etc. Of course, the MUTs are generally extremely crowded and they naturally provide their own impediments to traffic.
MUT's have their placelampshade
Jul 22, 2003 5:35 AM
Around here the MUT is a great way to aviod major streets while getting from one training road/route to another. I just make sure to slow way down when I am on it.
Jul 22, 2003 5:46 AM
Practicing basic courtesy ("Left", "Passing" or "Ding" - whichever works for you) when using a shared resource doesn't seem like Troll material to me. I might try it, just to see...

I don't know about your environs - I was on Northern Virginia's W&OD trail, with what I would say was a pretty balanced mix of pedestrians, cotton shorts types and roadies who were obviously on training rides (I fall somewhere on the continuum between T-shirted weekend warrior and lycra-clad road deity).

It wasn't so crowded that speed was a problem - there was no real impediment to anybody going as fast as they liked for their purposes. I just happened to notice it was the hardcore roadie types who seemed to expect everybody else to just "know" they were coming up at speed...
At speed this is what you would hear...biknben
Jul 22, 2003 6:16 AM
You don't seem bent that they were going fast...just that they didn't announce their pass. If you don't have time to react anyway what's the big deal. Do you know what "On your left" sounds like when you are being passed at a high rate of speed? More likely it sounds like a grunt or a moan. Next we'll have people bithin about how rude we are because we grunt at them while passing.

I don't ride on MUTs because it's not safe for me to ride at the pace I want to go. When I pass someone on the road, I leave a wide bearth and say nothing until I'm within their peripheral view. Then, I say hello, wave or whatever. No sense scaring the crap out of someone unneccessarily.

If you insist on riding the MUTs you learn there are greater concerns than being informed of a pass. A few altercations with dogs or children will change your tune.
I'll second the motion...MShaw
Jul 22, 2003 1:51 PM
...I've ridden the WOD in DC. When you say "on your left," what do people do, but move left? All they hear is "left." so that's where they go, then move right into your line and Boom! there goes the whole pile to the ground.

Passing works better for me. Since "everyone" knows that we're in the US, and people pass on the left in the US. Exceptions: the Beltway, and both north/south freeways here in San Diego, where you have to pass on the right to get around the slow bastards in the left lane!

You are so right.eschelon
Jul 22, 2003 6:01 AM
but it's not just the racer-wanna-be''s anyone going faster than the average casual MUT user's velocity.
You are so right.53T
Jul 22, 2003 6:27 AM
My 5 y/o son jumped out onto the looong bike trail on Cape Cod and nearly crashed an older (elderly) couple on a tandem doing about 17 mph downhill. I felt bad, but then again there is no way a kid could sneak up on me if I was on a tandem. The sight lines were very clear, the captain just wasn't looking.
re: On yer LEFT!CFBlue
Jul 22, 2003 6:22 AM
My Wife and I were riding our Tandem on such a path last year. We were south bound and a north bound peleton, not even riding single file, but up to three across, ran us off the road. Of course their speed was high...

unfortunately, that is the only way to get from that particular point A to point B, but when other users are present, I keep my speed down to >16 and make very sure I give right of way to any slower user. There are plenty of other places to set personal best times.
I had to stop warning people . . .ElvisMerckx
Jul 22, 2003 7:08 AM
...after 1 accident with a squirrely jogger and being run off the road too many times to count by people who swerve left while turning around to look at me. Since I stopped warning people, the accidents stopped.

Also, why do people feel they NEED to be warned? Stay in your lane, keep your eyes on the road, and turn off the walkman. Cars don't warn each other on the highways.
It is in the passing cyclist's interests to warncommuterguy
Jul 22, 2003 7:44 AM
I have walked along MUTs and been driven nuts by the cyclists who buzzed me without warning. NOT just serious roadies, but out-of-shape middle-aged types too. I think most people's brains are hard wired to be stressed by an unexpected 150-250 lbs., 15-30 mph, sweat-soaked, panting animal suddenly materializing on one's immediate left.

Most people can only see straight ahead, and a lot of bikes are too quiet to be heard as they approach. Without any reason to expect someone to be passing, it is normal to expect pedestrians (or other cyclists) to move to their left (or U-turn, etc.) if it suits them. It is (and has to be) the responsibility of the passer to announce themselves and their intentions.

It is a pretty safe bet that a pedestrian would fare worse than a cyclist from a collison that the cyclist sees coming but totally surprises the pedestrian. But the cyclist could still be badly hurt. Also, I believe the law obligates passing traffic to warn prior to passing; if an accident was caused by failure to warn, and resulted in death/injury/property damage, the passer could be held liable.

So, warn before passing, even if you are completely indifferent to other people's preferences and welfare.
No it's not...Dwayne Barry
Jul 22, 2003 8:01 AM
well maybe from some f'upped legal perspective but walkers, joggers, and especially incompetent cyclists tend to veer in the direction they're looking. I use to do the polite thing and say on your left, but two or three close calls ended that. Now I give as much room as possible and get by before they know I'm on them. Maybe rude, but at least we're both safe. Then again, this is always on the road where the speed difference is usually quite high. I don't know why anybody would ride a bike on one of those MUTs anyway unless it was just to get from point A to B.
legal perspective may be only one that matters....commuterguy
Jul 22, 2003 8:59 AM
As noted above, the slightly more complete "passing on your left" will generally let slower traffic know where you are and what you are doing.

I guess I would second your point about MUTs to be avoided by cyclists unless there is no other alternative. On the other hand, in DC area MUT are relatively deserted (except for serious cyclists) from October-March.

Perhaps this hasn't happened to you yet, but joggers will suddenly U-turn with no warning. I've even had it happen when I am half-way through saying "passing on your left." That is not how I would want to kick the bucket.
Well, like I said...Dwayne Barry
Jul 22, 2003 9:19 AM
I just ride the roads not MUTs, so a jogger or pedestrian has no business on my side of the road anyway. They should be going opposite the flow of traffic, not with it (so maybe legally I'm OK if they turn into me!).

Anyway, it seems like to me the probability of someone suddenly taking a U-turn in front of me is dwarfed by the almost certainty of them veering, or worse being startled and jumping in my direction, with a warning shout. Better to get by and let any histrionics play out behind me!
Perhaps cars should warn cyclists on the road too...ElvisMerckx
Jul 22, 2003 9:35 AM
This whole discussion is absurd. If you ride/ stroll/ walk/ rollerblade/ whatever on trails, you should be mentally prepared to be passed (with or without warning).

Stay in your lane, turn off the walkman, get off the trail when stopped, and maintain situational awareness.
actually, I quite appeciate when car'sSteve_0
Jul 22, 2003 10:10 AM
give their little warning honk.

My immediate thought is 'geez, lady, I knew you were there', but that suddenly turns into the realization that an extra-safe driver, who actually cares about the life of a fellow-man, is behind the wheel.

comforting, imo. Better than being brushed by an indifferent SUVpilot.
There you go, blame the victim!SpoiledBikeDaddy
Jul 22, 2003 10:37 AM
"Hey, if I startled that (recreational rider, rollerblader, jogger, etc) and caused them to swerve into me (or fall, or just have their hearts leap into their throats) because they forgot to utilize the eyes in the backs of their heads and left their psychic abilities on the nightstand this morning, that's THEIR FAULT!" (I'm being sarcastic, not patronizing, BTW). And some people wonder why cyclists have an reputation for being snotty...

Your advice re: staying in lane, etc. is good, and I agree with it, but it doesn't let cyclists off the hook. By calling out when you pass, you contribute to the same situational awareness you espouse.
. . . and drop your patronizing tone, SpoiledBikeDaddy. nmElvisMerckx
Jul 22, 2003 7:18 AM
I'll repeat my screed in support of MUT's. I like them. Youbill
Jul 22, 2003 7:20 AM
mix with the hoi polloi. You just have to understand what you're in for. It's crowded. There's stopping and starting. There is no room for impatience or bad humor. But you mix with lots of people happy to be outside/on their bikes/blades/whatever. You quip. Sometimes you talk. You ogle.
They're ridiculous for training, of course -- even at o'dark thirty, you can't predict open trail, but they're awesome for seeing the people and, around here, anyway, the fantastic views from the Potomac that still, after twenty years, take my breath away.
I remember after 9/11 hitting the trails. Just like the roads, they seemed more subdued, but it felt so good to be around people -- reassuring, catching a feeling of community. From the trail, the Pentagon looked intact. That subdued good feeling went away, of course, but I still like the trails.
Riding w/wife and ogling -- Danger ahead (and behind)!Dale Brigham
Jul 22, 2003 8:20 AM
I'm with you, bill. The occasional ride with my wife on the local MUT is a good way to get off the searing pavement and duck into the shade. As you noted above, not all fellow MUT users are annoying. Some, in fact, are downright...decorative.

Last Sunday, coming up upon a fine specimen of youthful fitness from behind, I could not help but sense that my wonderful, lovely, and talented wife riding astern of me was about to smack my Giro Pneumo with her pump. As we passed our fellow MUT user, I kept my eyes pointed straight ahead, made no breathy noises or comments, and escaped unscathed. It was a very close call.

Be careful out there!

this is what sunglasses are for, no?nmbill
Jul 22, 2003 8:29 AM
They are good for "drafting" college age girls out running (nm)lampshade
Jul 22, 2003 10:30 AM
It is amazing how some people you can get right around andbill
Jul 22, 2003 10:42 AM
others can hold you up for . . . awhile before it becomes too obvious.
It's a little known fact, but this is why wrap around styledjg
Jul 22, 2003 10:38 AM
shades were invented in the first place. Sunglasses were all well and good if you were concerned about the person directly in front of you, but the fabled spouse/gf/bf/whatever-by-your-side problem defined a design task: how to shield the peripheral view, and not just from the setting sun. Shield-type shades followed alomst immediately, once the eyewear community accepted the gravity of the situation.
I did not know that. I love this board.nmbill
Jul 22, 2003 10:51 AM
MUTs - good for practicing accelerations..dotkaye
Jul 22, 2003 11:40 AM
I ride the local MUT often, have noticed the same effect. MUTs aren't for riding fast, in fact ours has a posted speed limit of 15mph. I confess I break it, but only when I can see clear trail.. otherwise slow down, creep up behind the obstacle, and bellow 'LEFT' while doing 5mph. I don't pass until the reaction has taken place, usually an involuntary leap to the left. Ticks me off when the wannabe Eurotrash then comes racing past both of us..

Actually the worst 'on your left' story I have, happened on the road - some dork in sleeveless jersey riding next to an attractive girl, right after the 'please ride single file' sign on the road. That wasn't so bad, but he was in the middle of the road. So I come up, say 'on your left', he jumps left as I pass and forces me in the oncoming traffic lane: then swears at me. I had hills to climb, so I just left them behind, but it returns to puzzle me..
there was this beautiful blonde.....bburgoyne26
Jul 22, 2003 3:53 PM
who said "on your left" as she passed a couple of running buddies and me. I had seen her before at cycling events. She is tall, stunningly beautiful, and extremely physically fit. We call her the Amazon Woman, but definitely not in a derogatory manner.

Anyway, she did surprise us and we jumped a bit and shared a laugh with her. She said: "I just wanted to see if I could make you jump!" Can you imagine where we went with that line?