#bikeschool: Education for the mastiffs

Having put down some decent winter miles I’m now commuting to work by bike almost every day now the weather is a little nicer. Due to the increase in mileage I’m doing along cycle paths I’ve realised there is a cultural divide between cyclists and dog walkers. I’ve had my fair share of ‘incidents’ with dog walkers in the last few weeks and I think I know the reason why.

Edumecated

As ‘cyclists’ we are a strange bunch and most of the things we do puzzle the rest of the population to the point of ridicule. But maybe that’s because they just don’t understand what we are doing; they need educating on the ways of the cyclist. At the moment there is a small war going on in my town between the sensible masses who want our current cycle paths to be extended for the enjoyment of everyone and those who think that cyclists are crazed speed racers with a maniacal penchant for running over little dogs, children and/or the elderly. Having read a lot of articles and letters in the local paper it seems that we, as cyclists have a duty to explain ourselves and take the moral high ground. That’s why I have decided to submit a letter to the local paper, explaining myself and my actions as a cyclist to those who are willing to take the time to learn… and I need your help.

We may live in different countries and there may be slight cultural divides but I’d really, really love to know your thoughts on the points I’ve listed below which will go in my letter and tell me about ‘rules of the road’ that you abide by. It’s my belief with a little education, we can all get along as super swell friends.

  • I am NOT racing, I’m commuting.
  • I am not trying to scare, hurt or run over your dog. I will almost certainly come off worse if this were to happen.
  • I’m British, so I ride on the left. That is my default even on a cycle path. If you are walking towards me, walk on the left.
  • If I approach and you have your back to me, I will politely call ‘behind’ in good time for you to react and move to one side.
  • If you are walking towards me, it is NOT ridiculous to expect you to see me and react accordingly. I sit almost 6 feet high on my bike and will almost certainly be wearing something bright.
  • If I’m sporting my 800 lumens light and you STILL don’t see me… you should’ve gone to Specsavers!
  • If at all possible I will not ride between you and your unleashed dog, that’s just asking for trouble as Fido runs across me to get to you.
  • If I feel you’re being unreasonable in your own actions as we try to co-exist in this space, expect me to voice my opinion. This has nothing to do with me being a cyclist, I am a strong-minded human.

If you are a cyclist you probably do these things instinctively but to everyone else, well they may never have crossed their mind. I hope by explaining these things to pedestrians and dog walkers, they will be able to see that it is a behaviour pattern that has rules and that you can rely on rather than just random acts of racing.

Leave your comments below on the things that I’ve missed off the list and I’ll add them into the letter to the newspaper. This is what #bikeschool is about…

WORLD CYCLISTS UNITE

 

Stevie

  • http://twitter.com/dmuheim Danniella Muheim

    Mention the fact that when people walk on trails and they are on headsets, that if they play them so loud that they cannot hear you then its not your fault. People with earbuds have nearly turned into me multiple times …best story is the woman who just kept on walking in the middle of the path – i kept saying ‘passing – passing on the left’ (since i am not british’) and eventually i started singing the tune. I got to the end and started singing the next one. I am not a good singer and was making no attempt to stick to the tune at that point. I hit, or rather missed, a note so strongly she heard me and stopped and was so startled.

  • http://twitter.com/dmuheim Danniella Muheim

    Mention the fact that when people walk on trails and they are on headsets, that if they play them so loud that they cannot hear you then its not your fault. People with earbuds have nearly turned into me multiple times …best story is the woman who just kept on walking in the middle of the path – i kept saying ‘passing – passing on the left’ (since i am not british’) and eventually i started singing the tune. I got to the end and started singing the next one. I am not a good singer and was making no attempt to stick to the tune at that point. I hit, or rather missed, a note so strongly she heard me and stopped and was so startled.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    When a motorist writes a letter to the editor to explain how cyclists should ride more carefully around him, how much attention do you pay to that? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    On the cycle path, the walkers (with or without dogs or children) are the slower, more vulnerable users. My philosophy is to ride slowly and carefully around them, just as I want motorists on the road to drive slowly and carefully around me.  I’ll slow all the way down to walking speed where necessary. If I’m in a hurry, I avoid the path. The only behavior I can control is my own.
    Crashing after a dog hit is not inevitable.  I’ve plowed over dogs a handful of times. One time it was a big German Shepherd. It’s like bouncing over rocks and fallen trees while mountain biking or hopping big curbs with a  road bike, except dogs are softer and furrier, and they make funny noises  after you hit them. 

    I think people who crash after hitting dogs do so in a vain attempt to avoid hurting the dog, so they sharply turn a wheel, hit a trailside obstruction and end up on the ground. If you’re going too fast to stop or maneuver safely, hold your line while doing a bunny hop and you’ll probably be fine, and  the dog has learned to avoid bikes. The dog owner will curse cyclists even more than she already has, but perhaps she’ll learn to keep a tighter rein on her pet as well.

    • http://twitter.com/StevieDexter Stevie Dexter

       LMAO

      I kinda want to hear that squeaky, squashed dog sound now! I would definitely say I was a curteous rider, I just think it’d be nicer if others thought about what we were doing rather than just thinking we were racing around trying to injure their ridiculouslooking pooches.

  • Paul Ashworth

    I think it’s unrealistic to think we are all going to just play nice and be friends. People (and animals) are territorial by nature. So it’s reasonable to expect that people (and their pets) think they own a path, in the same way people (and their cars) think they own the road. For my part, I just try to ride in a courteous manner by slowing to go around others and keeping as far to the side as possible. Hopefully others will respond to me in a courteous fashion as well. If not, I always ride with a pepper spray gun and folding knife. Some people just want to be jerks, so I like to be prepared.

    • http://twitter.com/StevieDexter Stevie Dexter

      Paul I think you’re right about needing to be prepared! You never know what other people are going to do whether they are walkers, dogs or even other cyclists.

    • http://twitter.com/StevieDexter Stevie Dexter

      Paul I think you’re right about needing to be prepared! You never know what other people are going to do whether they are walkers, dogs or even other cyclists.

    • http://twitter.com/StevieDexter Stevie Dexter

      Paul I think you’re right about needing to be prepared! You never know what other people are going to do whether they are walkers, dogs or even other cyclists.

    • http://twitter.com/StevieDexter Stevie Dexter

      Paul I think you’re right about needing to be prepared! You never know what other people are going to do whether they are walkers, dogs or even other cyclists.

    • http://twitter.com/StevieDexter Stevie Dexter

      Paul I think you’re right about needing to be prepared! You never know what other people are going to do whether they are walkers, dogs or even other cyclists.

    • http://twitter.com/StevieDexter Stevie Dexter

      Paul I think you’re right about needing to be prepared! You never know what other people are going to do whether they are walkers, dogs or even other cyclists.

    • Raymondjmartin

      Isn’t that a bit radical, are you out biking or looking for a fight?

  • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

    Good job, Stevie….it’s great to see you voicing your opinion and sending that into the newspaper.  Be sure to follow up with us on this and let us know where it goes.  I think you’re list is good….the only thing I can think of to add in is saying something like “Cyclists are just people on Bicycles…we’re husbands, daughters, teachers, policemen.”