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Old 05-24-11, 04:32 PM   #1
gbiker
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Bicyclist = Directions Giver

So it's been over a year since I got back into bicycling and I've been kinda surprised by just how many lost motorists think bicyclists are like park rangers of the roads, just waiting to give them directions. On some rides it's like clockwork -- pull over to take a little break and a car pulls alongside, "Excuse me..." So far I've been helpful, though one time or two I did give wrong directions, half by mistake.

But when I'm still moving and they expect me to stop, I just keep riding right by them. One guy saw me, drove ahead of me, stopped in a road with no shoulder (I was on a bike path), and hung his head out the passenger window waiting to talk to me. And I kept peddling right on by!

I don't mind helping out, but it is getting to be a little annoying. I'm asked for directions far more than when I'm just a pedestrian. Got any stories/rants/etc.?

Last edited by gbiker; 05-24-11 at 05:06 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-24-11, 04:41 PM   #2
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I would prefer this over the careless motorists I have to deal with.
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Old 05-24-11, 04:57 PM   #3
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I'm blond with blue eyes, so when I first got to Holland, people were always asking me for directions. Not only did I not know their own country as well as they did, I also didn't speak Dutch yet and could only shrug, smile and say Ik spreek geen Nederlands. Sory meneer. (Maar je heb zeer lekker meisjes in jouw laand hier.)

It's all about accessibility. You are a human being outside of a car, therefore it's easier to get your attention, and you have no window to roll down. (Besides, bicyclists are notoriously more helpful, knowledgeable, and kind than your average motorist. )
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Old 05-24-11, 05:03 PM   #4
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I think they assume a cyclist is a local, and will know the local streets.
Many times I had to explain: "Sorry, but I live 40 miles from here and am not familiar with the area."
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Old 05-24-11, 05:06 PM   #5
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A motorist who asks directions from a cyclist is liable to get directions through side streets, parks, and parking lots.
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Old 05-24-11, 05:08 PM   #6
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Ooh! That's a good idea.
Next time I'll direct them through the pedestrian tunnel under US 36.
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Old 05-24-11, 05:11 PM   #7
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A motorist who asks directions from a cyclist is liable to get directions through side streets, parks, and parking lots.
Been there done that, sent a couple of guys from the motel I was staying out down a side street to a local restaurant, completely forgetting that the street dead ends at a rail road track. I always just rode past the barricade and over the tracks on the foot path. Fortunately you can see the restaurant from the crossing so it wasn't too hard to get there.

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Old 05-24-11, 05:33 PM   #8
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I can see why they would ask - safe bet the biker is local to the area and knows it well.
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Old 05-24-11, 05:35 PM   #9
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I always carry at least one copy of the map of the Trinity Trails with me, even though I have it memorized. That way, I can hand it to losts cyclists and runners. Most of the cyclists I know give the best directions of anybody in town. Not only do we know what roads go where, we know the topography and the neighborhoods.
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Old 05-24-11, 05:48 PM   #10
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I think they assume a cyclist is a local, and will know the local streets.
Many times I had to explain: "Sorry, but I live 40 miles from here and am not familiar with the area."
Yep.
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Old 05-24-11, 07:20 PM   #11
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The other day I was asked from a right turn lane when I was in the straight ahead lane in a busy intersection and the light was turning green.
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Old 05-24-11, 07:26 PM   #12
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Uh - are you male or female? Let me guess.
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Old 05-24-11, 09:01 PM   #13
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I have an "INFORMATION" sign over my head that is visible to everyone but me I've been asked directions all over the US.

I had a work assignment Burlington, VT. I was there my very first day and was riding trails in the Intervale. Never been there before. I had two people ask me how to get to downtown Burlington. But I had a map and was able to help them.

I've been asked where stuff is in Hot Springs, AR. I don't live there. I've been asked directions in Sherveport, Souix Falls, St. Louis, trails and jeep roads in the mountains and more other places than I can think of.

But the absolute best was in Noname, WA. It looked like this



and was in the middle of a hill. A trucker pulling a load of cables was going in the other direction. He pulled a u-turn (no easy feat) and pulled up in front of me. I had a full touring load and the guy wanted to know where the wind farm was. Amazingly, I actually knew because I had ridden right past it.

I think we get asked because we are approachable. Serial killers don't ride bikes do they?

Since I have this super power, I decided to use it for good and I volunteered for the Denver Parks Volunteer Courtesy Patrol. If you Denver people see anyone out in ugly green jersey with that across the back, say hi.
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Old 05-24-11, 09:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
I think they assume a cyclist is a local, and will know the local streets.
Many times I had to explain: "Sorry, but I live 40 miles from here and am not familiar with the area."
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac61 View Post
I can see why they would ask - safe bet the biker is local to the area and knows it well.

The thing is, it's not a safe bet at all ....... although most motorists, especially those who don't ride bicycles at all, might think so.


I have rarely been asked directions when I'm in the area where I live (let's say within a 50 km radius of my home/work/school). On those rare occasions, I am able to give directions because I've cycled all over the place in that radius.

But most of the time, I'm asked directions when I'm hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from where I live.

Half the time, I've stopped for a moment because I'm not sure where I am, and where I want to go, let alone where they want to go. And when I tell people that I don't know the directions to where they want to go, I often end up with dirty looks and lots of muttering and grumbling. I've gotten the impression from some that they think I'm being quite rude when I say, "I'm sorry, I'm not from around here, I don't know how to get where you want to go". But it's true!!

There was one amusing instance when I was standing at a round-about in the middle of England, looking at a map and trying to figure out where I was and how to get back, when a lost motorist pulled up and asked me how to get to a certain town. I started to say, "I'm sorry ..." and he realised that I wasn't British, and that I was standing there puzzling over a map. Between the two of us and the map, we were able to figure out where each of us needed to go.
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Old 05-24-11, 10:16 PM   #15
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I guess I'm also amazed in this modern era that there are still people without GPS's in their cars. Or that they don't keep maps in their cars. Or that they head out exploring on trips without even taking a map.
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Old 05-24-11, 10:57 PM   #16
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I gave a jogger directions to the park as requested. Except I sent him to the wrong side, where the bike loop is, instead of the running path. I didn't realize my mistake until much later.
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Old 05-24-11, 11:24 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I have an "INFORMATION" sign over my head that is visible to everyone but me I've been asked directions all over the US.

I had a work assignment Burlington, VT. I was there my very first day and was riding trails in the Intervale. Never been there before. I had two people ask me how to get to downtown Burlington. But I had a map and was able to help them.

I've been asked where stuff is in Hot Springs, AR. I don't live there. I've been asked directions in Sherveport, Souix Falls, St. Louis, trails and jeep roads in the mountains and more other places than I can think of.

But the absolute best was in Noname, WA. It looked like this

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r...positsWA34.jpg

and was in the middle of a hill. A trucker pulling a load of cables was going in the other direction. He pulled a u-turn (no easy feat) and pulled up in front of me. I had a full touring load and the guy wanted to know where the wind farm was. Amazingly, I actually knew because I had ridden right past it.

I think we get asked because we are approachable. Serial killers don't ride bikes do they?

Since I have this super power, I decided to use it for good and I volunteered for the Denver Parks Volunteer Courtesy Patrol. If you Denver people see anyone out in ugly green jersey with that across the back, say hi.
I need to find people like you to bike with who won't make fun of my lack of a sense of direction (hint hint armada120...). I have no sense of direction whatsoever. I was biking home from my friend's house, and I took monaco street/pkwy the wrong direction. I had already gone a mile before I realized what I had done.
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Old 05-25-11, 05:22 AM   #18
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I've only been asked twice, and both times I was waiting at a red light. I don't mind.
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Old 05-25-11, 05:52 AM   #19
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Finnish drivers don't ask for directions. They'd rather drive around in circles for a couple of hours. I know this because I tend to do it myself.
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Old 05-25-11, 05:54 AM   #20
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I guess I'm also amazed in this modern era that there are still people without GPS's in their cars. Or that they don't keep maps in their cars. Or that they head out exploring on trips without even taking a map.
GPSs aren't accurate. That's probably part of the problem ... people put their trust in their GPSs, and end up very lost and have to rely on the kindness of cyclists to get them where they are going.

But several of the people who have asked me directions are going to an acquaintence's place for baby showers, tupperware parties or whatever, and have been given those little sketches people do and include with the invitation ... and the invited person thinks the sketch makes the route look easy enough, but for some reason it isn't.

What gets me are the ones who argue with me. I walk a lot in the town where I live, and was stopped by a driver looking for a particular town (Town A) about 40 km away. I gave him two simple options of getting there, and he didn't like either. He wanted to go through another town (Town B) on the way to Town A. But Town B wasn't on the way to Town A. He could do an out-and-back to Town B, but he didn't want to do that. He wanted to go through Town B on the way to Town A. He insisted I tell him how to do that ... and I couldn't! And he wasn't happy with me. (I did discover later that there is a way to do it, but it's 222 km, rather than 40 km, and you'd need a 4WD) But I figure if you're stopping a complete stranger on the street ... don't assume that they know exactly where everything is.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:08 AM   #21
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I just started training for my first century. I was riding a section of the route. I was having so much fun on a steep down hill that I missed a turn. I had to climb 2 miles back up. When I got to the top, a guy on a motorcycle asked me for directions. I felt bad telling him that I had just gotten lost myself. Thanks for this thread. I thought I was the only one.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:44 AM   #22
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I've also found that bike shops are magnets for lost people. Our shop was located near a convenience store (with gas pumps and a map on the wall) and next to a pizza shop that delivered (with a map on the wall) and we would still get 5 or 6 a week come in looking for directions. We have a second store on a main road and it is centered in between several businesses (convenience stores, car dealerships, a bank, a couple restaurants) and they get just as many.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:45 AM   #23
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Finnish drivers don't ask for directions. They'd rather drive around in circles for a couple of hours. I know this because I tend to do it myself.
So, all of Finland's drives must be American males, then?
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Old 05-25-11, 08:13 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I have an "INFORMATION" sign over my head that is visible to everyone but me I've been asked directions all over the US.

I had a work assignment Burlington, VT. I was there my very first day and was riding trails in the Intervale. Never been there before. I had two people ask me how to get to downtown Burlington. But I had a map and was able to help them.

I've been asked where stuff is in Hot Springs, AR. I don't live there. I've been asked directions in Sherveport, Souix Falls, St. Louis, trails and jeep roads in the mountains and more other places than I can think of.

But the absolute best was in Noname, WA. It looked like this



and was in the middle of a hill. A trucker pulling a load of cables was going in the other direction. He pulled a u-turn (no easy feat) and pulled up in front of me. I had a full touring load and the guy wanted to know where the wind farm was. Amazingly, I actually knew because I had ridden right past it.

I think we get asked because we are approachable. Serial killers don't ride bikes do they?

Since I have this super power, I decided to use it for good and I volunteered for the Denver Parks Volunteer Courtesy Patrol. If you Denver people see anyone out in ugly green jersey with that across the back, say hi.

Oh man , look at those incredible road cycling conditions !!!! A lovely , even surface that looks almost traffic free. Very jealous of this .
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Old 05-25-11, 10:06 AM   #25
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Oh man , look at those incredible road cycling conditions !!!! A lovely , even surface that looks almost traffic free. Very jealous of this .
Check closely for goat-head thorns.
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