Spring Fever

Like Dottie, I had my share of invisibility yesterday morning: a pedestrian—probably a Belmont student late for class—darted out in front of me, in the bike lane.

All I could do was make inarticulate noises. Luckily that was enough to make him look my way and hustle as I applied the brake. No collision!

Me and Le Peug and the springtime

But then, on the way home, I had the opposite experience: pedaling down Portland, I saw a cyclist riding toward me. As we drew closer to one another, he veered toward me. Is he trying to hit me? Nope—apparently he just wanted to give me a high five. In more than a year of bicycle commuting, that’s the first time I’ve had that experience. So needless to say, we missed actually slapping hands due to my poor aim and late reaction. Still, it was a nice gesture of solidarity. Any other cyclists who can tell me if this was a common way of saying hello?

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20 thoughts on “Spring Fever

  1. Michelle B. says:

    I usually do the head nod to fellow bikers or a small hand wave. I have been commuting by bike for almost 2 years+ now and every ride is different. Most times I only have complaints about bad drivers, but the other day I encountered 2 courteous drivers who actually slowed down and yielded to me as I went straight through a light and they were turning right. It made up for days of dealing with horrible drivers and restored my hope for bikers and drivers to be able to co-exist peacefully.

  2. dukiebiddle says:

    I think if anyone did that to me I’d jump off my bike and scramble under the nearest car.

    Michelle B., I have to say cars yielding their right of way to me is one of my pet peeves. Although I appreciate the sentiment, I think it just confuses the rules of the road and leads to misunderstanding from drivers and cyclists as to their responsibilities. Also, it seems to me much more difficult from a riding position to see into a car and make out their facial expressions and hand signals to me (for whatever reason, it always seems easier from inside another vehicle). Whenever a driver yields their right of way to me, I try to stop, put both feet down, smile, shake my head and wave to thank them anyway.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    I like to ring my bike’s bell as I pass other riders. Just a little hi!

  4. Cherilyn says:

    Is the attempted high-five better or worse than a pat on the bum? That’s what a biking friend tries to get passengers to do from the car (no kidding) when they drive next to a biker. :)

    Glad you two are having beautiful weather! We’re going to have to cancel a bike trip in Yellowstone because snow’s in the forecast. Alas.

  5. Dave says:

    It must have been the invisibility day yesterday – riding downtown near Portland State University, I had an entire crowd of pedestrians (10 or so) walk out in front of me when I had a green light, and most of them looking right at me. It’s not that I mind them crossing the street, but I wasn’t expecting it and had to really crank on the brakes to not hit a couple of them.

    I’ve never had another cyclist try to give me a high five – cyclists around here don’t seem to interact a whole lot unless they already know each other, other than the occasional nod and smile.

    That Peugeot is really a great bike. Must be a lot of fun to ride!

  6. I’ve done a wave, a head nod or a “good morning!” to greet another cyclist, but never a high five. Seems like an easy way to create an accidental crash. High fi…oops!

  7. Vee says:

    I’m with Dukiebiddle. I find it confusing and b/c my pick up after being stopped is slow it can slow things down where as I don’t mind waiting for the road to clear for me to safely turn onto a road. Sometimes however I’ll take the offer b/c it’s too complicated to refuse. I find people do it for cars as well and it really bothers me b/c there are rules for a reason. take your right of way b/c I will take mine.

    I just smile at other cyclists. But often they don’t smile back.

  8. Kara says:

    I am horrible at giving high fives on two feet. I can only imagine how awkward it would be for me on a bike.

  9. dukiebiddle says:

    “I am horrible at giving high fives on two feet.”

    I agree. I’m just not that enthusiastic a person, so when I find myself in situations that require high-fiving it feels very awkward and contrived.

  10. Andrew Duthie says:

    I nearly whacked a jaywalker in downtown Nashville (Church Street) last week. She had her cell phone pressed against the right side of her skull, which was the side I could have hit. In lieu of trusting her to notice and react, I opted to cross the double yellow and go behind her, since there was no oncoming traffic. I also blurted something unintelligible and no doubt rude, perhaps hoping that this would cause her to pay more attention in the future.

    The incident further supports my standard safety advice for riding (bicycles or motorcycles), which is that you should assume every other user of the road is actively trying to cause you harm. Trucks, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, even drunks crawling in the gutter. With that in mind, act accordingly. Sure, it’s paranoid, but it seems to keep me from having collisions with them.

  11. katie says:

    Yeah, there won’t be any high fives coming from my direction either. I am able to ride my bike one-handed only with my right hand (I can’t do it with my left for more than literally two seconds), so unless someone was coming at me towards my left, it would be a complete failure.

    I bike on my school campus, and pedestrians seem to have no idea that they should move if I’m coming toward them. I once asked my friend (a pedestrian) why that is the case. Apparently, pedestrians get confused when they see bikes coming toward them. Their strategy is to either stand immobile or to just keep on walking, in hopes that the bicycle will simply cycle around them.

  12. Sabinna Den says:

    In my part of the world you get scooters coming out of the sidestreets at you. Fortunately they dont go too fast, just sort of ease out without looking, so a beefy “Haayyy” (cause a bell just wont do it) will stop them cutting right in front. You sure have to be a bit paranoid and assume that it may happen at any moment, and when it does you’re sort of prepared.

  13. Dottie says:

    Such a pretty picture!

    No one has ever tried to give me a high five; I’m pretty sure I’d topple :) I have seen motorists give cyclists high fives during critical mass.

  14. When approaching slower riders ascending hills I like to place a hand on the middle of their back and take their weight until we get near the top. It gives me a better workout and, once they get over the initial shock, the realization they are suddenly speeding up with no extra effort is always appreciated by the recipients. It’s something we do with team mates in pace-lines in races sometimes—though technically we’re not supposed to according to a rule I read somewhere.

  15. dukiebiddle says:

    Wilbur Fleming, you buy me dinner first before trying that. This merchandise ain’t free, ya know.

  16. MarkA says:

    Whilst ‘high fiving’ might, you know, be more of an American thing than we’d usually go in for over here on the rainy side of the pond, I did high five someone recently on a cycle path – turns out we were both riding much faster than we realised and I can tell you now, it hurts!

    A ring of the bell, a waive and a smile is much more demure :O)

  17. Michelle B. says:

    I think I should explain my first comment more, if these cars hadn’t yielded to me I would probably be in a full body cast for all I know. They either would have hit me or I would have had to slam on my breaks and hit them. And in this case I DID have the right of way. I too hate when cars stop at intersections to let me go and I usually wave them on, but when I am riding in the bike lane at high speeds downtown and someone cuts me off when they are turning right now THAT is a pet peeve of mine.

    Another pet peeve is bikers that pass you without saying a word, not even a “on your left” or anything. It’s not like I want to have a full blown conversation with you and ride with you all the way to work but at least be courteous to fellow bikers. :)

  18. sara says:

    I think the high five thing is incredibly funny & sweet, but I suspect it would have definitely thrown me. I, too, often do the head nod acknowledgment to other riders, but my guys (if they aren’t buried deep in a book in the bakfiets) do lots of waving and verbal greetings of other riders and pedestrians and just abut anyone else they can call out too.

  19. Jon Grinder says:

    I high-five with other riders and pedestrians here in Denver, occasionally. Last Saturday I was riding with a friend when we saw a guy riding a wheelie toward the intersection where we had stopped. As we took off, he ended his wheelie and, as we passed, we high-fived.

    Of course, we were both going 10 or 15 mph, so the resulting WHACK was loud enough that Carol thought the other guy had crashed!

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