Advice On Being A Polite Cyclist
Why should I be a polite cyclist? It’s a question we are often asked.
The media these days seems to be filled with all manner of stories of cyclist v car drivers. But not just drivers, cyclists v walkers, and cyclists v horse riders also feature heavily. As cyclists there’s nothing we can do to change the views of other people in isolation. What we can do however is to behave in a considerate manner in the hope that people will see us as the nice friendly bunch of people we are.
If you’re out on country lane and pass other people a cheery ‘Hello!’ goes a long way. It doesn’t matter whether they’re other cyclists, walkers, runners, horse riders or even drivers. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Showing the world you’re a polite cyclist will go a long way.
Horses need particular care – see our article here for specific horse advice
Consider a bell
This is a bit of a contentious one – many people object to the sight of a bell. Many ‘serious’ cyclist will sneer at the idea of having a bell on their handlebars. However there are some very snazzy looking and unobtrusive bells on the market these days. A quiet, gentle ‘ping’ cant be a non-aggressive way to warn people that you’re approaching.
Say Thank you
If someone lets you out or moves over to let you past acknowledge them. A quick ‘Morning, Thank you’ is all that it takes, again just general courtesy. If you thank them they’ll think “what a polite cyclist’ and be much more inclined to do it again when the occasion arises in the future.
Don’t drop litter
If you’re eating on the move and it’s wrapped, don’t drop the wrappings. Stuff them back in your jersey until you can drop them in a bin or take them home. Don’t imitate the pros, they have designated drop zones and people to clear up behind them. If you’re changing an inner tube take the old one home and those gas cannisters.
It’s a fact of life that at some point you’re likely to get caught out and need to take a comfort break. Best advice we can offer is to be discreet. Wait for a quiet spot and if you’re out in the country then try to get as far away from the road as possible. Whatever you do don’t be one of those cyclists that gets caught relieving themselves against someone’s wall or fence.
Be considerate in traffic
Sure it’s great to be able to filter in traffic and scooch up the side of that long line of parked cars but do be careful and considerate. Be careful of getting stuck in the blind spot of long / large trucks especially at junctions where they may turn left on to you. If space is tight then wait, don’t brush up against car drivers doors and annoy them. If you’re at a junction with a protected bike area at the front, be prepared to move off as soon as the lights change.
See our detailed article on riding in traffic here
Specific advice for group riding
Keep the noise down
If you’re meeting early (especially on a Sunday) in a built up area be aware of how much noise even a small group can generate. Local residents may well still be asleep and won’t appreciate the noise. Also when you ride off it may be advisable to keep the group chat & communications down until you get to a quieter are. Having said that it’s still essential to communicate hazards etc within your group.
Keep your group in order
One way to guarantee annoying other road users is to ride in an unruly group. Yes, the highway code says that it’s OK to ride two abreast please be prepared to ‘line out’ if it allows other road users to pass. Also if your group is very large consider splitting in to smaller groups and ride at staggered intervals.
For more advice see our article on Group Riding
Cyclists at Hyde Park Corner by Gerry Lynch, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Cyclist passing horses “Please Pass Politely Wide and Slow” by samsaundersbristol is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0