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Am I a cyclist or a mobile signpost?

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Am I a cyclist or a mobile signpost?

Old 08-14-12, 08:33 PM
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lasauge 
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Am I a cyclist or a mobile signpost?

FOUR times this past week alone I've been riding around town and I've had drivers stop to ask me directions. My favorite one was when I was stopped a light waiting to go straight through, when a semi-truck pulled up in the right-hand turn lane and the driver hollered down to me from his cab to ask how to get the grocery store he was supposed to be delivering his load to...

Is this something common for other commuters? I suppose it makes sense to assume that cyclists will have a good idea about the areas they're riding through, and we're obviously more approachable than drivers sealed away in their cars, but it always surprises me a little when this kind of thing happens.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:38 PM
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scroca
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Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
...we're obviously more approachable than drivers sealed away in their cars..
I think you answered your own question.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:39 PM
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Never had that happen while riding a bike... But I do get people asking me for directions while I'm walking.
You think that semi drivers would have a GPS these days...
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Old 08-14-12, 08:40 PM
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Oh geez, I hope no one does that when I start, not only am I fairly new in town but my internal compass is broken! (I'll be mounting my phone to my handlebars to use google maps if I ever get lost.)

We do get lots of that at my job though. We've had everyone from locals to out of state visitors stop in for directions. I dunno what it is about a pet store that seems like we'd know where everything is, but... I even once had someone stop to ask for a good place to go eat with his wife. (Out of towners.)
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Old 08-14-12, 08:43 PM
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Ive been considered/treated like a mailbox before but never a sign...

That would be kinda flattering to an extent. At least they are acknowledging you as a person and not an impediment.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:49 PM
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I got asked where a local business was and I couldn't remember so I pulled up google maps on my phone and gave directions.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:56 PM
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Happens to me quite a bit. The funny times are when they ask about the freeway system. I can tell them how to get on the freeway, but I have no idea where to get off of it.
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Old 08-15-12, 04:42 AM
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I get asked all the time. I think part of it is that I look like a courier when I cycle and couriers are like taxi drivers they typically know all the streets. Easy to communicate with someone on a bike as the OP suggested. I find that it is mostly suburbanites coming into the big city and need to find their way to major hospitals, or the theaters etc.
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Old 08-15-12, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
need to find their way to major hospitals, or the theaters etc.
The only time I've been asked for directions it was a fellow cyclist. Somewhat kitted out on a nice bike, but not totally roadie. He was looking for the hospital and since I was commuting to the hospital I told him to hop on my wheel and I'd lead him there since I worked in the ER (we were less than a mile from it at that point.)

But 40 yards down the road I looked back and he was gone. It was a straight stretch and he'd previously passed me with ease, and I was going mayyybe 10 mph. No idea where he went or why he didn't stick around.
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Old 08-15-12, 06:01 AM
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I had this happen last week just before the light turned green. There was nobody behind me, so I gave the guy directions, but then the left turning traffic wouldn't let me go. I lost my balance and had to brace myself by smacking one of the cars turning left.
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Old 08-15-12, 06:08 AM
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Unless you're an introvert or have no sense of direction, enjoy it! Best example of bike advocacy I can think of.
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Old 08-15-12, 08:40 AM
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Am I a cyclist or a mobile signpost? You'll have the answer to your question when dogs start pissing on you.
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Old 08-15-12, 09:44 AM
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About twice a month
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Old 08-15-12, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingFool View Post
Never had that happen while riding a bike... But I do get people asking me for directions while I'm walking.
You think that semi drivers would have a GPS these days...
I do not know if this is true for most truck drivers, but UPS has a rule against using GPS systems when delivering. Many guys still use them, but they can get fired for using them. I believe the company looks at them as a safety issue.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:06 AM
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Tuesday on the ride home...A biker headed the other direction flagged me down. We were in the middle of nowhere southern WI and He asks me how to get to Hwy MM and B. He's riding from Harvard, IL to Madison, WI for some Babcock Hall Ice Cream???? Harvard is the end station for the NW Metra line outta Chicago. It's 80+ miles from Madison. He must've really liked ice cream. Made my day. :-)
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Old 08-15-12, 10:09 AM
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It happens constantly. If you're on a bike, people assume you know the area - after all, only a car can go past around 5 miles, right? Being on a bike screams local, and I think folks also assume many bikers are friendly hippy types.

I'll usually stop and offer directions to the best of my ability, depending on the ride or if I'm late for something. If I'm riding for fitness/fun and have a good groove going, I might ignore them entirely or just say I'm new and ride off.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:12 AM
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Happens to me fairly often too. I view it as a good opportunity to impress drivers about how nice and responsible cyclists are.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:32 AM
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I've had it happen a couple times. My favorite is when I am on the other side of town where all I know is my route.

Once this past winter when I was out jogging some guy came out of his garage and asked me to stop and help him get a riding lawnmower up on to a trailer. Seriously?
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Old 08-15-12, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by kookaburra1701 View Post
The only time I've been asked for directions it was a fellow cyclist. Somewhat kitted out on a nice bike, but not totally roadie. He was looking for the hospital and since I was commuting to the hospital I told him to hop on my wheel and I'd lead him there since I worked in the ER (we were less than a mile from it at that point.)But 40 yards down the road I looked back and he was gone. It was a straight stretch and he'd previously passed me with ease, and I was going mayyybe 10 mph. No idea where he went or why he didn't stick around.
Obviously he was about to drop dead and wasn't able to keep up with you on the way to the hospital. You literally 'dropped' him!

Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
It happens constantly. If you're on a bike, people assume you know the area - after all, only a car can go past around 5 miles, right? Being on a bike screams local, and I think folks also assume many bikers are friendly hippy types.
Maybe that explains why I'm often asked where someone can find 'some good stuff'.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
FOUR times this past week alone I've been riding around town and I've had drivers stop to ask me directions. My favorite one was when I was stopped a light waiting to go straight through, when a semi-truck pulled up in the right-hand turn lane and the driver hollered down to me from his cab to ask how to get the grocery store he was supposed to be delivering his load to...

Is this something common for other commuters? I suppose it makes sense to assume that cyclists will have a good idea about the areas they're riding through, and we're obviously more approachable than drivers sealed away in their cars, but it always surprises me a little when this kind of thing happens.
I've had people ask me for directions in Hot Springs, Arkansas; the Intervale in Burlington, VT; a lonely road in South Carolina; a busy road in North Carolina; single track trails all over Colorado; and, my favorite, by a trucker in the back and beyond eastern Washington. It happens all the time. With the exception of Colorado, I've never been to whatever area I'm being asked about before. I'm amazed at how often I can help in places where I've never been to.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:44 AM
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Funny how drivers are all nice and friendly when they need directions, but the rest of the time, will run you off the road like you don't exist.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:56 AM
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Hmm. Had the opposite experience this morning. Walking at work, 2 cyclists ask me for directions.
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Old 08-15-12, 11:20 AM
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The tourists do go home after Labor day and school-year starts again.

Though the commercial driver hauling into a new town ,

will have to do that trip again even after summer ..

hope you didn't head him down a street not for heavy goods vehicles
because that is the road you were most comfortable on,
to get off the one with all the Truck traffic.

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-15-12 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 08-15-12, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingFool View Post
You think that semi drivers would have a GPS these days...
Most of my work travel takes me to places that are not accurately in any GPS system. I imagine semi drivers looking for the best entrance to reach a loading dock could be in the same boat.

I think you can generally count on cyclists knowing an area better than random drivers in addition to the lack of enclosure around them.
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Old 08-15-12, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Funny how drivers are all nice and friendly when they need directions, but the rest of the time, will run you off the road like you don't exist.
I would say the majority of cars I interact with are respectful, careful and often friendly. Some are indifferent. A very small percentage are actually malicious or rude. That does change in the burbs...but urban folks are, for the most part, pretty tolerant.

On the flip side - about half of the cyclists that I regularly come into contact with are complete schmendricks and a hefty portion of pedestrians make me wish for an asteroid.
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