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  1. #1
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    What to say at the checkout line

    Here's an idea for a thread.

    Let's say you are at the bank or the supermarket. Someone starts asking you about your cycling, how many miles a week do you ride, why you ride, etc.

    The reason they ask is they have looked you up and down, as you stand there with your helmet, backpack etc. Maybe they've even let you go ahead in line with two items for checkout.

    The conversation starts out all friendly. After all, they started it, so you're just trying to be happy and friendly. You're actually in great spirits, as you have been having a great ride...

    But then, inevitably, they start dumping all kinds of past resentments and near misses on you, and start lecturing you on how to ride safe. I always wondered why motorists don't lecture each other.

    What do you say?

  2. #2
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    How about 'The exercise keeps my herpes from flaring up.'
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  3. #3
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    fail.

  4. #4
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    How about "Go f*ck yourself"?

  5. #5
    Badger Biker ctyler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forknroad View Post
    How about "Go f*ck yourself"?
    Works for me.
    It's a good day to ride.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member ScottStr's Avatar
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    I tell them that I run over cyclists who do stupid thing too. And that I have connections so that I can track down drivers that cut me off and kill them in their sleep. They never smile back when I give them that crazy little smile after that, but they shut up real quick.

  7. #7
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    The most civilized I could get to a 'tail-end tirade' in a conversation like that is, "I'm sorry you had problems with other riders; I'm not them. I don't do those things, and I know more about it than you ever will, so STFU. And if you try anything out on the road with me, you better kill me, 'cause otherwise, I WILL KILL YOU, if it takes a decade."

    Big as I am, I usually don't get a lot of that. Unless it's from the car window....

  8. #8
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    Why all the negative comments? Are the stereotypes about bicyclists being arrogant a%%holes correct?

    In regards to your question - I just state how safety is very important to me when bicycling which includes having good lights, wearing a safety vest, obeying traffic lights, stop signs, riding with the flow of traffic, etc... I also acknowledge that it is a challenge when others ride/drive recklessly & leave it at that... cheers

  9. #9
    Senior Member brianinc-ville's Avatar
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    I totally feel the resentment everybody's chewing on here, and I know it's hard to choke down the anger, but if you're going to take the high road (and actually do something good for cyclists), how about something like:

    "Yeah, we need to get more law-abiding folks like YOU out on bikes. In places where biking is a normal, average way to get around, people are more likely to follow the rules and less likely to act freaky. Here's my card -- call me if you want someone to show you the good bike routes around town."

    or

    "You sound like you care a lot about traffic safety. Why don't you become a League Cycling Instructor? Or at least donate some money to your local bike advocacy group to subsidize safe cycling classes?"

    or

    "Yeah, a big part of the problem is that almost nobody in the US gets a driver's ed class for biking. Can you help us out by pressuring the local school board to make safe traffic cycling part of the high school curriculum?"

    or, if you'd rather,

    "Yeah, if we're ever going to get really safe roads, like the Netherlands, we'll need to stop paying lip service to bike safety and invest some major cash in safe separated infrastructure. Will you lobby your congressperson?"

    In other words, "YOU'RE EITHER PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION. HOW 'BOUT HELPING OUT, BUDDY?" But don't say it like that.

  10. #10
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    If I don't like where the conversation is headed, I usually just become non-responsive (hey, just being honest here...). If I'm feeling sharp, I work in something along the lines of 'its only dangerous out there if the drivers around me make it that way' as my last words.

  11. #11
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    I just turn it around. Do you get your fat ass off the couch? Do you ride? Why do you smell funny? If you get 32 of your relatives in one room what do your have? (a full set of teeth). Things like that.

  12. #12
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    I acknowledge that a majority of cyclists today are scofflaws. However, nearly 100% of motorists break the law on every trip they make with very deadly results. I then challenge them to go a week without breaking a single traffic law, including making a complete stop behind the limit line at stop signs and red lights and giving the few cyclists they pass the legally required space. If they can take that much, I'll begin to quiz them on the vehicle code.

  13. #13
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    How about something like, "You're not suggesting that the annoying/unsafe things cyclists do somehow lessens our responsibility as drivers to drive in such a way as to not hit anything, are you? I mean, we're supposed to drive carefully enough to avoid hitting things. Even things that annoy us."
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
    I totally feel the resentment everybody's chewing on here, and I know it's hard to choke down the anger, but if you're going to take the high road (and actually do something good for cyclists), how about something like:

    "Yeah, we need to get more law-abiding folks like YOU out on bikes. In places where biking is a normal, average way to get around, people are more likely to follow the rules and less likely to act freaky. Here's my card -- call me if you want someone to show you the good bike routes around town."

    or

    "You sound like you care a lot about traffic safety. Why don't you become a League Cycling Instructor? Or at least donate some money to your local bike advocacy group to subsidize safe cycling classes?"

    or

    "Yeah, a big part of the problem is that almost nobody in the US gets a driver's ed class for biking. Can you help us out by pressuring the local school board to make safe traffic cycling part of the high school curriculum?"

    or, if you'd rather,

    "Yeah, if we're ever going to get really safe roads, like the Netherlands, we'll need to stop paying lip service to bike safety and invest some major cash in safe separated infrastructure. Will you lobby your congressperson?"

    In other words, "YOU'RE EITHER PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION. HOW 'BOUT HELPING OUT, BUDDY?" But don't say it like that.
    not bad. I do like the positive angle. I will admit It's tough to take that route all the time when I'm just not in the mood to engage with strangers on a complex political issue. I tried to post something a couple hours ago, but my IE dropped me. It was more of a "qualification" type of thing where you try to feel out their intentions and where the conversation is headed. If you know they are supportive of cycling in general in the beggining, the exchange is easier. If they are not supportive, you can end the conversation diplomatically without going on the defensive.

  15. #15
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    counter intuitive

    I've had very few encounters like this but my reply to similar situations is something like this, "It's interesting. Cycling is counter-intuitive. Everyone thinks they know how to ride a bike but it turns out what is safe for the cyclist isn't obvious. It's like these stupid looking bike shorts. I used to laugh at people that looked like me until I learned more and got experience. It looked as stupid as riding in traffic but it turns out I was just ignorant about cycling before I put a few thousand miles on my bike. Now I'm better educated. Unfortunately that education takes time and experience but I try not to get irritated at people that don't know anything about cycling because most people are just clueless". Then I turn away so as to end the conversation.

  16. #16
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    "Well, when you learn to drive you won't have a problem with sharing the road."

  17. #17
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun View Post
    "Well, when you learn to drive you won't have a problem with sharing the road."
    Best answer yet.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Captain Blight's Avatar
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    I like to tell 'em that not only have I lost a hundred-plus pounds from riding the bike, I'm also saving about $450 a month by not having a car. And that it's not just the cyclists-- there is just plain no shortage of idiots everywhere in this country, everywhere, all the time, all over the place, in every nook and cranny, sea to shining sea, idiots everywhere you look. Some are on bikes and some are in cars and some are in foot and the one thing they have in common is that they're irresponsible, oblivious IDIOTS no matter how ya slice it.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tell 'em': Nocomprende Ingles' . . .

  20. #20
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    I say: "shut up and hurry up, your too slow as it is behind that register not alone trying to talk about something you don't have clue about, you minimum wage overweight moron!"

  21. #21
    Senior Member badrad's Avatar
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    memorize and repeat this phrase: "vous m'avez pris pour quelqu'un qui donne une merde"

  22. #22
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    In french, for real?
    Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

  23. #23
    Senior Member badrad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    In french, for real?
    it passed the censors here...

  24. #24
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    Some good stuff here, just a quick one and I'm going for a ride in a few.

    It depends on my mood. I try to "qualify" the conversation will go..

    They might ask "uh is that a bike helmet?" or "do you ride a lot?"

    Usually the cool people start off with some sort of praise, so that helps.

    but sometimes as I mentioned the conversation can get sour.

    so I might ask:

    -do you ride?
    -what kind of bike? (if they ride)
    This will clue you in a bit. If they start venting some story about some kid they almost ran over because he did whatever, I might say:
    "wow sorry you had that happen. But in general would you say you are pro or anti bike"?
    (you never know they might have had a daughter get killed by a car or something)
    Then you may be able to narrow it down, and end the discussion on a more civil note with something positive.

    many people want you to be on the defensive, it's the "cyclist inferiority complex"

    What you say off the bike matters too. I do like brianinc.ville's ideas, though, as they are cheerful and non-violent in intention . You are seeking to form common ground. Unfortunately, yes there are people who are just hopeless and closed minded , but at least you can walk away without looking standoffish.

    Then two weeks later they recognize you on the road and won't buzz you or someone who looks like you. They toot and wave.

    Massbike.com has a great PR program going on called "and I ride". The person you just buzzed could be your kid's teacher, your doctor, etc. If you put a face to a rider (along with a name, introduce yourself, ask their name, do they live locally?) then cyclists will have more of an identity, as opposed to being a body in their path.

    Ahimsa.









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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim-in-Kirkland View Post
    Why all the negative comments? Are the stereotypes about bicyclists being arrogant a%%holes correct?

    In regards to your question - I just state how safety is very important to me when bicycling which includes having good lights, wearing a safety vest, obeying traffic lights, stop signs, riding with the flow of traffic, etc... I also acknowledge that it is a challenge when others ride/drive recklessly & leave it at that... cheers
    +1. You are trying your best to "walk the walk" . generally, the more safety equipment I started putting on. the less snyde comments I got, despite feeling slightly dorky at first. Kids often ask me about my helmet mirror.

    Bottom line: Cycling makes me happy and saves me a lot of money (as well as aggravation) So why not be cheerful, and just try to not "take on" other's toxic emotional issues? The funny thing is, you are a "conversation piece", something different and unique in their day, but where you choose to go with that is up to you, and it can come back as bad Karma to you later, or good Karma. That person you just insulted could save your life out there someday.

    But yeah, some people just hate cyclists, and that's sad.

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