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  1. #1
    pAIYILI Paiyili's Avatar
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    Question about "On your Left"

    Hi,
    This question has been on my mind since September 25 (day two of the City-to-Shore MS150). Here's the setup: A friend and I were riding our hybrids in this ride (it's not a race, it's a tour or ride). It is to be expected that some of the road bike types are trying for their personal best time, not an issue. They like going fast, let 'em go fast. Needless to say, a lot of them are passing us. Some, however, seem to think it's a race and are passing with only an inch or two of space. My friend says to one of them that he is passing a bit too close. The guy says (here it comes) "I SAID "On your left". That means you are supposed to move over to the right."

    I was wondering if this is the general perception of this phrase, or if I am right in thinking that this is a very misguided young man. My perception is that he is probably one of those guys who has never been in a bicycle wreck, but there have been lots of them behind him.
    Regards,
    Paiyili
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    Nope doesn't mean you have to move over, just means you're better off not swerving to the left or getting startled.

  3. #3
    pAIYILI Paiyili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilHinault
    Nope doesn't mean you have to move over, just means you're better off not swerving to the left or getting startled.
    My take on it as well. I just wondered if somebody told this to the young fellow, or if he cooked it up himself. It seemed to me that he wasn't that smart (had a nice bike and a full kit, pity about the brain), so it occurred to me that this might not have been an original thought...that he got it somewhere.

    By the way, we DIDN'T move over.
    Regards,
    Paiyili
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    Senior Member
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    The responsibilty for safely passing is primarily on the overtaking cyclist. While it may be courteous to move to your right if it is safe, it is by no means necessary.

  5. #5
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    The vehicle that hits a vehicle in front is always at fault. I don't see how it is any different with bikes. Overtaking vehicle has the responsibility for a safe pass without any responsibility for crash avoidance by the vehicle being passed.
    Hi 'o Silver away

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    Senior Member FLBandit's Avatar
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    To me it just means someone is there. I just hold my line.
    I wanna ride!
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  7. #7
    Conservative Hippie
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    This young man is mistaken. The onus to pass safely is always on the one doing the passing. As a courtesy the one being passed should maintain his line and speed. I know I feel no obligation to move to the right for passing motor vehicles. Why would I do so for him?

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    The guy passing may have been out of line, but IF there is space to the right it is polite to move a little that way. If this is like most rides of this sort you are on the shoulder of the road and it can be hard to pass, esp. since you are passing all day long.

  9. #9
    Not a senior! townandcountry's Avatar
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    You did the right thing. My experience with "on your left", however, is the person being passed moves to the left, for some weird reason. I've started saying "passing" and haven't had any mindless space cadets move in front. If that doesn't get their attention, I'll yell (really loud) "passing on your left" as I'm about to go by slowly.

  10. #10
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    When I say "On your left"; for me it means "I am begininng my pass, please hold your line".

    I prefer that the cyclist being passed not move left or right. If they begin moving right, I can't be sure that they are being polite. Some of the less skilled cyclist, move right without thinking, see a hazard and swerve left, creating a problem. Rare, but it does happen.

  11. #11
    JRA
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    Quote Originally Posted by townandcountry
    My experience with "on your left", however, is the person being passed moves to the left, for some weird reason.
    Many people have concluded that "on your left" simply doesn't work, for exactly the reason you give.


    Quote Originally Posted by townandcountry
    I've started saying "passing" and haven't had any mindless space cadets move in front.
    I like that. I'm definately going to try it.
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  12. #12
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paiyili
    Hi,
    This question has been on my mind since September 25 (day two of the City-to-Shore MS150). Here's the setup: A friend and I were riding our hybrids in this ride (it's not a race, it's a tour or ride). It is to be expected that some of the road bike types are trying for their personal best time, not an issue. They like going fast, let 'em go fast. Needless to say, a lot of them are passing us. Some, however, seem to think it's a race and are passing with only an inch or two of space. My friend says to one of them that he is passing a bit too close. The guy says (here it comes) "I SAID "On your left". That means you are supposed to move over to the right."

    I was wondering if this is the general perception of this phrase, or if I am right in thinking that this is a very misguided young man. My perception is that he is probably one of those guys who has never been in a bicycle wreck, but there have been lots of them behind him.
    Shoulda just given the rude twerp a 'Left turn, Clyde', if ya know what I mean.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Always hold your line when riding, it's safer for everyone. The guy is really screwed up saying you should move right. Many times, his buddy is trying to sneak around that side.
    I also quit saying "On your left". When coming up on someone, they aren't already listening to you, so the "On your" gets their attention that you've said "something", and they distinctly hear the "Left", and move over. "Passing" is all I say now, and say it loudly.

  14. #14
    Proud To Be An American EXCALIBUR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    Shoulda just given the rude twerp a 'Left turn, Clyde', if ya know what I mean.
    I concur. This passing cyclist needs a lesson in behavioral modification through *positive* reinforcement.
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  15. #15
    meb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkear
    The responsibilty for safely passing is primarily on the overtaking cyclist. While it may be courteous to move to your right if it is safe, it is by no means necessary.
    You certainly are under no duty to move into a dangerous position on the right simply because the overtaker may have picked an inopportune and/or dangerous time to pass. Best think is be consistent and not ver to the left upon the statement.

  16. #16
    Let's Go! SilentShifter's Avatar
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    To me it just means someone is passing you on your left so stay true to your line. When I do it, I don't expect someone to move over for me - I do it out of courtesy and to prevent an accident.

  17. #17
    meb
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    Many people have concluded that "on your left" simply doesn't work, for exactly the reason you give.


    I like that. I'm definately going to try it.
    I think a lot depends on the level of familiarity with paths by person being overtaken. Inline skaters seem to be the best at staying away from the left, serious joggers and faster cyclists next, the 5 mph cyclist and walkers are a disaster. If a trail has marked signs requiring "on your left" the pedestrians seem to have gotten the picture.

  18. #18
    Proud To Be An American EXCALIBUR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meb
    I think a lot depends on the level of familiarity with paths by person being overtaken. Inline skaters seem to be the best at staying away from the left, serious joggers and faster cyclists next, the 5 mph cyclist and walkers are a disaster. If a trail has marked signs requiring "on your left" the pedestrians seem to have gotten the picture.
    Walkers are by far the worse. Whenever I ride through the park on the paths, clearly marked with a center line, the walkers insist on fanning across the entire path like a heard of cattle. They are so busy talking to each other that a simple, " on your left" does not even phase them. Sheesh!!!
    EXCALIBUR
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  19. #19
    meb
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    Quote Originally Posted by EXCALIBUR
    Walkers are by far the worse. Whenever I ride through the park on the paths, clearly marked with a center line, the walkers insist on fanning across the entire path like a heard of cattle. They are so busy talking to each other that a simple, " on your left" does not even phase them. Sheesh!!!
    Your experience is better with walkers than mine. "On your left" often results in their moving to the left.

  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by townandcountry
    You did the right thing. My experience with "on your left", however, is the person being passed moves to the left, for some weird reason. I've started saying "passing" and haven't had any mindless space cadets move in front. If that doesn't get their attention, I'll yell (really loud) "passing on your left" as I'm about to go by slowly.
    I still use "on your left" but I make sure I slow down when I call it out. I once has a group of 5 peds on a trail go in 8 different directions when I called out "on your left". Had to stop and wait a week before they had themselves all sorted out
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  21. #21
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by townandcountry
    My experience with "on your left", however, is the person being passed moves to the left, for some weird reason.
    It's simple. Unless you make a conscious effort, you will go where you look. When someone says OYL, your natural reaction is to look left, which causes you to go that way. Works for both cyclists and walkers. It actually requires practice to ride a bike while looking in a differenct direction.

  22. #22
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    were you and your friend riding abreast along the road or single file?

  23. #23
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    That's just silly. There is no logic in assuming someone else will do a specific thing. The only thing you can do is alert them to your presence - and that's exactly what "on the left" is for, nothing more.

    He's an arrogant road hog.

    Simplest solution:
    1. get a bell (I'm not for the "on your left" generally, it causes confusion)
    2. if he almost swipes you with that attitude again, clear your nose as he passes
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  24. #24
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    it happens in the park loops around here all the time. especially in the summer when there are tons of weekend warrior type cyclists. they'll pass you and then immediately cut in front. it's pretty rude, and i think it's done only to exaggerate how fast they're going.

  25. #25
    lws
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    The vehicle that hits a vehicle in front is always at fault. I don't see how it is any different with bikes. Overtaking vehicle has the responsibility for a safe pass without any responsibility for crash avoidance by the vehicle being passed.
    Incorrect. The vehicle being overtaken has a responsibility not to move sideways unless they first signal and look to be sure their maneuver will not require evasive action on the part of an overtaking driver.

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