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Drafting On Commute... Etiquette Question

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Drafting On Commute... Etiquette Question

Old 07-11-14, 05:30 AM
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thxxx
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Drafting On Commute... Etiquette Question

I'm curious as to the etiquette of this practice...

If I set the scene a bit, I am relatively new to cycling. I have an old road bike (Giant Cadex 980c). I am cycling 3/4 times a week to work (26 mile round trip) and thoroughly enjoying it while the weather is good. I am quite fit, but don't for a minute think I am that quick, with stops for roundabouts and junctions I'm averaging just over 30kmph (just under 20mph) on the commute, so it's taking about 40ish minutes.

A few times over the last few weeks, I have had another cyclist sitting on my rear wheel occasionally, for about 8km of my ride. He doesn't say anything, doesn't try and overtake and doesn't ever ride in front, regardless of me slowing down or speeding up.

Now I know when cycling in a group, people take it in turns to go out in front into the wind on the basis that it can help overall group speed.

I suppose I am wondering whether this is acceptable from another cyclist, or if anybody else has experienced this? I guess if he even said hey, or introduced himself I wouldn't mind so much, but I find it a bit weird and it's not something I would do. I'm intrigued as to how other people view this.
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Old 07-11-14, 06:21 AM
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I agree with you. I would have said something like, "Mind if I draft?" Or upon leaving said, "Thanks for the pull."

I guess one way to look at it is he sees you as a superior cyclist who is able to help get somewhere quicker than he could on his own.

Another question would be if he is just jumping on like that, are you obligated to give any hand signals such that I've seen/done in group rides for things like gravel, pot holes or debris in the road?
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Old 07-11-14, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by thxxx View Post
I'm curious as to the etiquette of this practice...

If I set the scene a bit, I am relatively new to cycling. I have an old road bike (Giant Cadex 980c). I am cycling 3/4 times a week to work (26 mile round trip) and thoroughly enjoying it while the weather is good. I am quite fit, but don't for a minute think I am that quick, with stops for roundabouts and junctions I'm averaging just over 30kmph (just under 20mph) on the commute, so it's taking about 40ish minutes.

A few times over the last few weeks, I have had another cyclist sitting on my rear wheel occasionally, for about 8km of my ride. He doesn't say anything, doesn't try and overtake and doesn't ever ride in front, regardless of me slowing down or speeding up.

Now I know when cycling in a group, people take it in turns to go out in front into the wind on the basis that it can help overall group speed.

I suppose I am wondering whether this is acceptable from another cyclist, or if anybody else has experienced this? I guess if he even said hey, or introduced himself I wouldn't mind so much, but I find it a bit weird and it's not something I would do. I'm intrigued as to how other people view this.
This has been a topic in the past and yes it has happened to me. Opinion varies all the way from it being harmless, to being rude, right on up to being dangerous (though more dangerous for him).

Personally, I find it rude outside of a group ride context. Even if it were a group ride, to hang on that long without ever offering to pull himself is a violation of etiquette.

Your options are either to slow down and wave him by or speed up to the point where he can't stick with you. If neither of those work you may have to say something to him.
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Old 07-11-14, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mgw4jc View Post
I agree with you. I would have said something like, "Mind if I draft?" Or upon leaving said, "Thanks for the pull."

I guess one way to look at it is he sees you as a superior cyclist who is able to help get somewhere quicker than he could on his own.

Another question would be if he is just jumping on like that, are you obligated to give any hand signals such that I've seen/done in group rides for things like gravel, pot holes or debris in the road?
I don't think you're obligated, but it might be a way to turn this into a more friendly interaction that both people benefit from, - especially if the drafter would be willing to take a turn pulling. Again, this is just me, but I prefer to be alone with my thoughts on my commutes. I'm not looking for social interaction. I go on group rides for that.

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-11-14 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 07-11-14, 06:47 AM
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I draft people who salmon passed me while stopped at intersections
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Old 07-11-14, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by thxxx View Post
I'm curious as to the etiquette of this practice...

If I set the scene a bit, I am relatively new to cycling. I have an old road bike (Giant Cadex 980c). I am cycling 3/4 times a week to work (26 mile round trip) and thoroughly enjoying it while the weather is good. I am quite fit, but don't for a minute think I am that quick, with stops for roundabouts and junctions I'm averaging just over 30kmph (just under 20mph) on the commute, so it's taking about 40ish minutes.

A few times over the last few weeks, I have had another cyclist sitting on my rear wheel occasionally, for about 8km of my ride. He doesn't say anything, doesn't try and overtake and doesn't ever ride in front, regardless of me slowing down or speeding up.

Now I know when cycling in a group, people take it in turns to go out in front into the wind on the basis that it can help overall group speed.

I suppose I am wondering whether this is acceptable from another cyclist, or if anybody else has experienced this? I guess if he even said hey, or introduced himself I wouldn't mind so much, but I find it a bit weird and it's not something I would do. I'm intrigued as to how other people view this.
I think our definitions of quick are quite different.
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Old 07-11-14, 07:00 AM
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I need to learn these hand signals for debris and potholes, but I would be loathe to use them for a cyclist who has not communicated with me in some way before. The only reason I even knew he was still there half the time was when I fully turned to have a look.

On my commute I am happier on my own I think, just trying to get to work or home as fast as poss and comparing my rides from previous days, but I would expect the courtesy of somebody to offer to draft if they were matching speed. On this basis I would most likely be more than happy to pull on my commutes, but at least offer an introduction and/or request. I'm very sociable and as such would be more than happy to meet a fellow commuter.

I have a lot to learn in cycling I think, as I always call out when I am passing another cyclist on the road, but not all seem to appreciate the gesture!

Edit: himespau, I am pretty new to road cycling (last two/three months) and in fact cycling in general. Fairly fortunate that I don't have too many junctions or traffic to slow me down on my commute. The reason I think it's not that quick is many of the road cyclists I talk to around here seem to talk of speeds in excess of 30mph, which I can only just manage for very very brief seconds downhill! (I've also seen talk of people doing 50mph plus on a bike, which I think would be insane, but thats another topic!)

Last edited by thxxx; 07-11-14 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 07-11-14, 07:07 AM
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averaging a tad under 20mph is pretty good......
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Old 07-11-14, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by DunderXIII View Post
I draft people who salmon passed me while stopped at intersections
EXACTLY! Those are the only people I've ever drafted, and at that point, you can bet your a$$ I'm obnoxious about it.
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Old 07-11-14, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by skins_brew View Post
averaging a tad under 20mph is pretty good......
Yeah, really! I average 16mph after two years, but my commute has some decent climbs.

As far as etiquette, yes this guy needs to take the lead sometimes, or just not draft at all. If he was doing it regularly to me, I'd pull over and stop.
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Old 07-11-14, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
Yeah, really! I average 16mph after two years, but my commute has some decent climbs.

As far as etiquette, yes this guy needs to take the lead sometimes, or just not draft at all. If he was doing it regularly to me, I'd pull over and stop.
My commute is fairly flat, which helps I kinda feel a bit stupid now, and I wasn't quite sure I believed they guys in the office who think it's very achievable to average 20mph on a mountain bike! I was thinking bloody hell, they must be shifting some! I have come into cycling from a running background (distance) with a good level of fitness, and every time I get on the bike I am pushing really hard.

I think I may pull over next time the guy does it, it has happened three times in as many weeks, and not once any kind of communication!
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Old 07-11-14, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by DunderXIII View Post
I draft people who salmon passed me while stopped at intersections
I always wonder why people do this (salmon-ing). The strange thing is that the ones I've encountered on my commute are not fast. They all get passed once the light turns green.
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Old 07-11-14, 08:31 AM
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It's a breach of etiquette and safety to draft without communicating. Doing the entire 8km pull would not bother me, but you better communicate with me if you are planning to draft. If not, as mentioned above, I will just pull away, or failing that, slow down. If someone doesn't get the hint, I will ask them to not tail me (cuz that is what it is unless it is a planned activity); it has only gotten to that point twice.
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Old 07-11-14, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by hyhuu View Post
I always wonder why people do this (salmon-ing). The strange thing is that the ones I've encountered on my commute are not fast. They all get passed once the light turns green.
Sometimes its dangerous to pass on the green light because (well in Montreal at least) there can be oncoming traffic in a two-way bike lane. And sometimes they salmon right in the middle of the street, on a red light and the upcoming lane is too narrow to pass safely; I'm thinking of a one-way road | path | parked cars type of lane.

Then I draft them until they either get away, they're really faster! good job! or until its safe to pass in the traffic lane. In the mean time, I take it slow.
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Old 07-11-14, 09:06 AM
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Rude and dangerous. On my commute I don't want someone that close to me. I would wave them around. I have enough problems with tailgaters in MA. I'm not on a group road ride.
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Old 07-11-14, 09:49 AM
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Salmoning, as I understand it, is cycling against the prevailing flow of traffic. To draft a salmoner you would first have to make a 180* turn and set off in hot pursuit. To catch and draft a red light scofflaw you would either have to blow the light yourself, compromising your ethical position, or expend way more energy than would be worth it IMO to teach a complete stranger a lesson in civic obligation. And what happens at an intersection up the road when the scofflaw you are drafting keeps rolling... to say I am confused by this ongoing line of sub-topic is understatement. What gives?

H
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Old 07-11-14, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by hyhuu View Post
I always wonder why people do this (salmon-ing). The strange thing is that the ones I've encountered on my commute are not fast. They all get passed once the light turns green.
Actually what those people are doing is commonly known as "shoaling." And you're correct ... most of the people who have shoaled me (has happened a few times recently) are slower than me. One in particular drove me nuts and I felt like he put our safety at risk with his boneheaded riding style.

Salmoning is actually riding against the flow of traffic.
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Old 07-11-14, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Salmoning, as I understand it, is cycling against the prevailing flow of traffic. To draft a salmoner you would first have to make a 180* turn and set off in hot pursuit. To catch and draft a red light scofflaw you would either have to blow the light yourself, compromising your ethical position, or expend way more energy than would be worth it IMO to teach a complete stranger a lesson in civic obligation. And what happens at an intersection up the road when the scofflaw you are drafting keeps rolling... to say I am confused by this ongoing line of sub-topic is understatement. What gives?

H
I'm there with you. When I think of salmon-passing I think of someone going by me in the opposite direction. I'm not motivated enough to turn around and draft them if they're not heading where I want to go. In reading the context of the comments, I think what was meant was filtering at a stop light, not salmoning.

But back on the OP's topic: I'm not sure what I would do. I'm too slow to catch up to anyone in order to draft, and too slow for anyone to bother drafting behind me.
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Old 07-11-14, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I think our definitions of quick are quite different.
That is what I was thinking. I have always of myself as quick, not fast. Time for my annual reassessment.

I think it is a bit rude not to say anything after several timees, it is the same person correct?

It is a good point that hand signals may open up communication.

I also look for a peaceful solitary ride on my commute, but if there is someone I see regularly, or keep crossing paths with, I will likely chat. Like this morning, I chatted with the fellow who caught me. I had seen him coming from back and pushed to make the chase harder. He then got me and drafted for a bit (500 m) for a rest I suppose, then we rode side by side the next 3 km or so and chatted. But we knew each other, in the passing acquaintance sense.

I caught a woman one morning last fall and I knew I wouldn't be able to pass her. So I started coasting and caught her wheel and rode a bit back for a short distance (1/2 block) while we came to an intersection. She turned and angrily said to back off. I made her uncomfortable, she let me know, but not in a nice way.

I like to pull people and if I pass someone close in speed I usually tell them they can hang on for a pull. A guy late for work asked once if he could draft.

Regardless friendly chatter is nice, obvious ignoring and taking advantage of is not.
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Old 07-11-14, 10:22 AM
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If you take my point of view that commuting isn't about racing, it's just getting to work, then, other than the safety aspect (the drafter bumping into me), drafting is fine by me. However, if you don't like it, refer to http://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/...teep-hill.html
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Old 07-11-14, 10:27 AM
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Let me see if I can put this in an Anglophilic way:

It's just not done, old boy.
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Old 07-11-14, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
Actually what those people are doing is commonly known as "shoaling." And you're correct ... most of the people who have shoaled me (has happened a few times recently) are slower than me. One in particular drove me nuts and I felt like he put our safety at risk with his boneheaded riding style.

Salmoning is actually riding against the flow of traffic.
Thanks for the correction.
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Old 07-11-14, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by hyhuu View Post
Thanks for the correction.
Sure thing ... I should have corrected it in my first reply to this thread but that was pre-caffeine
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Old 07-11-14, 10:49 AM
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On the rare occasion that it comes up with someone that I don't know, I warn them that I brake for squirrels and pedestrians and other hazards, and they either drop back for a little more space or decide not to draft. I also slow a lot for passing pedestrians (if it's on a MUP) and then accelerate more than most people prefer, which tends to naturally discourage drafting.
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Old 07-11-14, 10:53 AM
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Etiquette aside, has anyone here actually known of or involved in a case where an unannounced drafter caused a crash? I personally have not. Around here it's not uncommon for people to draft on commute. From what I've seen, these drafters aren't that close to the wheel.
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