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Old 04-06-02, 05:52 AM   #1
swekarl
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Plinging culture

Today I used my bell (well in time) to warn two pedestrians with a buggy in front of me. Instead of just paying attention and give way, they stumbled up on the hill beside the path, with the buggy and all, to let me pass. Me, on a bike, on a three meters (at least) wide bike/pedestrian path. Why was that?

I think using the bikeís bell (plinging as we say in Sweden) means different things depending on where you live. If you live in a country where people bike a lot, then people react instinctively to the sound and give way and thatís it. In Sweden though, leisure cycling is not so common (I think I met like 3 other cyclists during my one hour trip in the suburbs), and so ringing the bell is like honking.

(Disclaimer: I didnít mind them jumping away from the path Ė better that than no reaction at all Ė I was just confused.)
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Old 04-06-02, 06:44 AM   #2
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It's funny you mention that, Karl. I get the same reaction from pedestrians no matter how gently I try to ring the bell.

For this reason, these days I try to alert pedestrians by calling out "excuse me".
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Old 04-06-02, 06:55 AM   #3
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I use the bell almost all the time. Since much of my recreational riding is along the same bike paths at about the same time, I actually have trained a number of the walkers with my bell. It is sort of like a Pavlovian reaction. Also, I get MANY favorable comments from pedestrians who greatly appreciate my warning them of my presence. It seems there are a number of riders who do NOT give any warning, and I can testify that when I am a pedestrian, having a bike swoop by without being aware of its previous presence is VERY unnerving.

I don't do the "on your left" bit because most people don't readily KNOW their left, especially when yelled from behind them, and sometimes they think they should MOVE to the left, rather than letting me pass on the left.

One time I was trying to pass a neophyte rider in a group of neophyte riders, and I kept saying "on your left" and she kept thinking I meant for her to GO to her left. She finally forced me off of the path. Bah, humbug!!

Kids are the worst. No matter what you do, they MUST turn around on their bike, always looking over their left shoulder and automatically pulling more into the path. I generally state something like, "Son, I am going to pass you, please stay in your own lane."

Fortunately, there are NOT a lot of bikes, peds or kids on bikes where I ride. I generally see perhaps one or two bikes or peds per mile.

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Old 04-06-02, 12:50 PM   #4
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I've had the same experience with people being confused by the "on your left", and also by the bell, sometimes you can't win.

Usually I just say "careful, I'm passing", or just "passing on your left", which seem more effective.
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Old 04-06-02, 01:15 PM   #5
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I get that as well, pedestrians cowering by the edge of a mixed use path as I go past at 5mph with 3m of clearance. I give a friendly sounding whistle to warn people of my presence on paths. On the road I tend to give a sharp shout to pedestrians who are considering stepping into my path. A bell is not much use in those circumstances.
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Old 04-06-02, 08:44 PM   #6
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hmmm, i've always felt that, in being a pedestrian in places where bikes are regularly used, I have a resposibility to keep aware of where i am. likewise, if i'm biking in a place where there are pedestrians, i have a resposibilty to let them know as well.
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Old 04-06-02, 10:22 PM   #7
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This sort of thing is the reason I never use these paths.
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Old 04-07-02, 10:43 AM   #8
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I have to say if I'm on a shared pedestrian and cycle path I'm not in a rush. Therefore I just slow right down behind them, backpeddling furiously normally to make some kind of noise, and let them notice me when they're ready. Then they normally move, and quite often smile too, and that's kind of nice.

If I'm in a rush, I use the road. It's quicker.

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Old 04-08-02, 01:32 AM   #9
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I ride through the local National Park at least 1 time per week and I always have to call out to pedestrians, "coming past" as they like to walk all over the road. It is a very quiet park, sometimes I don't see any cars at all, but I can't understand why people don't either walk on the designated paths or at least walk toward on coming traffic, so they see bikes coming. I have had a number of occasions when I have called out and the group of people turn to see me then continue walking without moving over. The roads are wide enough for two cars, but they insist on walking in the middle of the road.:confused:
Last week I came around a blind left hand corner at 40kph (the speed limit) and there were 5-6 joggers taking up the whole road, I quickly yelled "coming past" and none of them moved, so I just missed a woman by a few inches. If I had been driving a car she would have been hit. I was already hugging the far left of the road, there wasn't a lot of room for error. If they had been running toward me on my side I could have gone around them, but when you take up the whole road there isn't a lot of options. There are some intelligent pedestrians though, these are the ones that instinctively move over without turning, they hear your "call" and just step aside, perfect.

CHEERS.

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Old 04-08-02, 04:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dutchy
I ride through the local National Park at least 1 time per week and I always have to call out to pedestrians, "coming past" as they like to walk all over the road. It is a very quiet park, ...

I have had a number of occasions when I have called out and the group of people turn to see me then continue walking without moving over. The roads are wide enough for two cars, but they insist on walking in the middle of the road.:confused:
A couple of points here...

1. Literally EVERY shared path I have ever seen has signs ordering cyclists to give way to pedestrians on the pathway. That, to me, indicates that by law, the pedestrian is well within their rights to do whatever the hell they like. Seems to me that if a cyclist decides to use such a signed path, they have to accept the conditions of it's use.

2. Literally EVERY National Park I have ever visited (excepting those that are on former state forest land with fire trails) prohibit bikes on all but public roadways. Admittedly, most National Parks around here are on the World Heritage list, which generally permits less than others, but the principle still seems to be the same - if you intend to use the pedestrian's path, you have to accept their presence.
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Old 04-08-02, 05:47 AM   #11
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Maybe in 6 cases out of 10 a gentle bell ring works fine where I ride (100% mixed paths, where the law requires everybody to stay right). The remaining 4 are ugly scenes to watch. Sometimes pedestrians get over-cautious as swekarl described, although here they don't just run, they hurl abuse at you as well.

Sometimes, upon hearing the bell, a group of pedestrians quickly reorganizes, everybody moving this way or the other, finally leaving the path as blocked as it was to begin with. And then there are those who leave a narrow gap for other people. When they hear the bell, they get scared, apparently deciding that the gap wasn't wide enough and promptly move to block it. I've had this happening to me so many times that I now try to pass through the gap in stealth mode, if possible.

In a really close-call situation a badly aligned front brake is better than any bell. A loud screeching sound approaching leaves nobody in doubt. They move out of way first, then look around for the source. With bell it seems to be the opposite.

And how about dogs? Do you have people walking their dog(s) in a 3-meter leash on mixed paths?

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Old 04-08-02, 05:59 AM   #12
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Originally posted by mike
It's funny you mention that, Karl. I get the same reaction from pedestrians no matter how gently I try to ring the bell.

For this reason, these days I try to alert pedestrians by calling out "excuse me".
Tried that the other day and the pedestrian nearly jumped out of their skin. I ususally click my brake levers.
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Old 04-08-02, 06:11 AM   #13
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Seems that no matter what I do , I startle whomever I am passing. Clicking brake levers is a good idea . I'll give that a try . I clear my throat loudly and say "passing on your left." :confused:
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Old 04-09-02, 01:44 AM   #14
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Servus!

(Damn it's good to be back!)

Anyhow, a solution that I found is good for heavy traffic is to attach a small cow bell to my bike. Yep, it's annoying as hell but it warns people WELL in advance of your approach. Most folks turn around thinking that a cow is running at them at 25 mph!

I think Kona has marketed something like this for a ridiculous price, check it out.
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Old 04-09-02, 02:02 AM   #15
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I can't help but worry that when I'm forced to cross a bridge on a sidewalk I'm going to ring my bell to pass and someone's going to be so startled that they're going to leap over the railing. The poor peds sometimes have nowhere else to go on those tiny sidewalks. I think strange things when I ride.

In the winter, passing peds is a whole new ballgame. The bell becomes useless when the peds bundle up their heads and ears with parka hoods and toques (winter coats and hats for you non-Canadians). I try to just slow right down to a walking pace and pass ever so gently.

I can empathise with those peds who go for walks and find themselves a little disconnected from their surroundings as long as they don't violently snap back to reality and kill one of us passing cyclists.
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Old 04-09-02, 09:53 AM   #16
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There's a guy in Boston who rides around on his trike making this "WooooWooooWoooo" sound with his mouth. I think he's on to something. Whenever you hear it, you look up and see where he is. I doubt he's ever hit a pedestrian. Maybe he's on to something.

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Old 04-09-02, 06:31 PM   #17
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When I used to cycle to work thru Central London, pedestrians would step out into the road without even looking. Eventually I would just point the bike right at them and kind of glare fiercely ( imitating the bike messengers ) . This would cause them to jump with fright and scamper off the road - hopefully teaching them to be more careful next time. I never hit anyone so maybe it worked
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Old 04-10-02, 01:06 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by aturley
There's a guy in Boston who rides around on his trike making this "WooooWooooWoooo" sound with his mouth. I think he's on to something. Whenever you hear it, you look up and see where he is. I doubt he's ever hit a pedestrian. Maybe he's on to something.

andy
I've found that this is also helpful for getting a seat on a bus or train.
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Old 04-10-02, 03:55 AM   #19
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Ahhh the stories I could tell.... My knee has just finished healing from my last (and only real) run-in with pedestrians on a multi-use path.

The ironic thing about this incident is that they were coming toward me. They were filling the path. As they saw me coming, the ones on the left moved right, the ones on the right moved left. I hit the brakes, and in the confusion of trying to find a line through them, I over-steered and down I went (at only about 5 Kmph). I didn't really get mad until they started yelling at me. Na ja.

I have never lived in a country where the motorists were more considerate or more intelligent in sharing the road with bikes than here in Germany. But, there seems to be a general tendency to turn off all common sense as soon as one becomes a pedestrian on a multi-use path.

I am interested in how many non-U.S.A. posts have appeared in this discussion. I think it goes to show that the U.S.A. is still seriously lacks these kinds of paths. Despite the minor incidents, they are wonderful for all.
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Old 04-10-02, 04:01 AM   #20
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Originally posted by jmlee
I am interested in how many non-U.S.A. posts have appeared in this discussion. I think it goes to show that the U.S.A. is still seriously lacks these kinds of paths. Despite the minor incidents, they are wonderful for all.
I just wish Australia had fewer of them. It would mean that the money would have been spent on useful things like putting shoulders on the road or something like that. Those paths are evil, disgusting and extremely dangerous.
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Old 04-10-02, 04:14 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by ianm
When I used to cycle to work thru Central London, pedestrians would step out into the road without even looking. Eventually I would just point the bike right at them and kind of glare fiercely ( imitating the bike messengers ) . This would cause them to jump with fright and scamper off the road - hopefully teaching them to be more careful next time. I never hit anyone so maybe it worked
It's not so much the pedestrians I'm worried about in London, it's the Taxis and Royal Mail vans...they seem to be a law unto themselves!!



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Old 04-10-02, 05:05 AM   #22
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The only time someone warned me, I heard ďOn your rightĒ from a cyclist behind me who then proceeded to pass on my Left . I donít know if she was dyslexic or what.
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Old 04-10-02, 07:41 AM   #23
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Old 04-10-02, 08:44 AM   #24
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As someone who vastly prefers riding the road to multi-use paths, I fully agree that more money in many countries needs to be spent on widening shoulders, etc. But, in response to ChrisL, Iíll defend multi-use paths nonetheless.

In Germany the paths are filled with walkers, inline skaters, and bicyclists who may or may not feel comfortable using the road. Here, riding a bike to the store, to work, etc. is a normal activity for perhaps the majority of people. Itís not the Netherlands, but itís close. On the multi-use paths, I daily pass elderly persons on bikes who are moving so slowly that one worries about them falling over. But, despite their age, they are out there getting some fresh air and exercise.

I canít speak for Australia, but all of this is much rarer in the U.S., largely, I suspect because of its overwhelmingly automobile-centered city planning. Itís pitiful that countriesí financial priorities dictate an either/or decision on paths and shoulders.

Cheers.
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Old 04-10-02, 09:41 PM   #25
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Originally posted by jmlee
I canít speak for Australia, but all of this is much rarer in the U.S., largely, I suspect because of its overwhelmingly automobile-centered city planning. Itís pitiful that countriesí financial priorities dictate an either/or decision on paths and shoulders.
Perhaps German cities were designed differently to ours. However, in this country, paths basically don't go anywhere. If you actually want to go somewhere in an Australian city or town, you will sooner or later have to use the road. Here in the Gold Coast is a prime example. People always talk about how many "bikepaths" this place has, but if I tried to ride to work using them, I'd have to leave about 4 hours earlier.

Basically, off-road paths are fine if you want to "give way to pedestrians" or "dismount to cross road/brige/whatever the council has decided to put there". If you actually want to get on your bike and go somewhere, sooner or later you'll have to use the road, and there is nothing in this country more dangerous then the point at which the bikepath ends to enter the road.
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