How to avoid coming across as a know it all jerk
I know that bike-pgh has recently done some commuter pamphlets, but short of having one of those on hand, does anyone have a way that they approach uninformed cyclists? I recently saw a guy slowly riding on the opposite side of traffic and really wanted to pull over and say “look buddy, it will be safer for you, drivers and other cyclists if you rode on the right hand side of the road, etc…” This is the biggest thing I see, but I do also occasionally see other dumb stuff like people riding at night with no lights at all or barely any reflectors, adults riding with young children either on their own bikes, in child seats, or bike trailers with young kids not wearing helmets. I do honestly think that much of this comes from the biker being uniformed. i do remember a time before I started riding on the streets often that i would feel safer on the sidewalk or going against traffic so that I could see the oncoming cars. however, I hesitate to approach these people because I do not want to come off as some know it all jerk telling these people what to do.
but srsly, as long as you remain calm, be matter of fact about it and express your concern for their well being, I don’t see how anyone would object – unless they have a chemical imbalance.
Being 6 foot 6 with long hair and a scraggly beard, when I approach strangers for hugs, usually the police get involved….so I try to reserve stranger hugs only for those carrying “free hugs” signs!
It’s a shame that “know-it-all” has such negative connotations, because if there really was such a fella, I would definitely want him on speed dial.
when you tell someone they should put a helmet on their kid, just don’t shoot them afterward.
It is hard to say when advice could be given to strangers. Lots of times it can be given. A few times it should be given. It is really hard to specify the circumstances, in general though.
There are times that I go on the sidewalk, against traffic. Example: going up Frew street when there seems to be rush to leave the head-in parking on the with-traffic side of the street.
Maybe I don’t need “experienced bicyclist” advice to get off the sidewalk there.
Also, I live in Oakland. I see a lot of super-cool people. They wear black. They ride bikes that look like someone inspected them and removed any thing that could possibly be visible at night. They do not wear helmets. They ride against traffic.
Who am I to tell these hipsters that dying young isn’t the way to go?
Can I sign up for some sort of mentorship program? When I commute to work, I have these nagging worrys that 1) I’m doing something wrong that is annoying other cyclists/trail users or 2) I’m doing something incorrectly that is making look like I’m wearing a giant “NEWBIE” sign.
I wish people would give me advice in a nice way, but I realize there is a social boundary that’s difficult to overcome.
That’s some of what the Car-Free Fridays plan is trying to accomplish, pairing up relatively new cyclists with others more experienced.
I’m almost always riding in solo — unfortunately also on CFF days — so I hang out on this board a lot to absorb as much virtual experience as I can, and share what I myself have learned through direct experience.
I too think more needs to be done for the new cyclists. Example: College kid moves to Pitt, never ridden in city before, sees lots of other kids riding poorly (see Mick’s post above), follows suit because it’s cool/the norm. It’s the wild west out there right now – anything goes. I think one of the best things we as a responsible cycling community can do is always set the right example when we ride.
I try to set an example by signaling, having lights, taking the lane when it makes sense etc.
It would be nice if the schools would hand out a biking in the city guide with freshman packets.
I’d certainly like to get my hands on a few of them for friends.
If you’re talking about the Bike Commuting 101 guide feel free to come to the office and pick up a bunch. We’ll be having an official release in October.
Eventually they’ll be at distribution points, mainly bike shops, throughout the city.
BStephens I too think more needs to be done for the new cyclists. Example: College kid moves to Pitt, never ridden in city before, sees lots of other kids riding poorly (see Mick’s post above), follows suit because it’s cool/the norm. It’s the wild west out there right now – anything goes. I think one of the best things we as a responsible cycling community can do is always set the right example when we ride.
There was talk of starting learn-to-ride-in-the-city classes. Everyone agreed how helpful it would be to teach a class, say, the second week of the term.
I’d be delighted to volunteer to help with that, but I think it is crucial to have college-age people doing the teaching. The new students might already have enough superior-sounding older people telling them what to do.
And by the way to respond to the original dilemma. . . .agreed. Tough call on unsolicited advice. I remember an old poster that had a big gorilla on it with a caption “If I want your opinion I’ll beat it out of you” . . . but since you asked.
If you have an inclination to say something to someone, especially if you think they’re in danger – Go for it. I would try not to get too caught up in offending someone if you’ve tried to be polite. Showing some empathy is usually a good approach.
It’s sometimes hard to give advice when you are passing said people…if they are going in a different direction.
“Hey, give your kid a helmet!”
::cyclist is already past::
So it’s hard to have a necessary amount of dialogue that would not be perceived as coming from a jerk-face, know-it-all.
Maybe we shouldn’t worry about how they perceive us though? If enough people in a row say, “wear a helmet, yo!”, perhaps they’ll eventually listen?
@Mick, I posted that post about the Bike Commuting 101 class, but been busy lately. I’ve been meaning to pick up the conversation again once I get a chance to breathe. It’s looking like college students are an important target audience for that sort of class.
@nochasingiguanas Don’t hesitate to ask any cyclists who are passing you up a question. Just pipe up with “Hey, can I ask you a question..” and fire away. Some may fly on by but I bet others will be happy to answer. If you are on a trail, riding in a straight line, and having a good time, you shouldn’t be annoying anyone. If you are it’s probably their problem not yours.
The other morning another cyclist caught up and asked me if I like my panniers. We had a short conversation and went our separate ways.
More often than should be, if you approach someone in this society as a salesman you will find them both receptive and concerned.
As in: “Excuse me, I know a bike shop that has these nifty helmets that just came in in your child’s size.”
Or as an authority figure, “Hey, get on the right side of the road!”
I will come down and pick up some guides to hand out at CMU sometime.
As another rider from Oakland, I can say, it is ridiculous how many riders I see without lights. If you want to ride without a helmet, fine. Atleast there are some arguements for that. However, there is no arguement to ride without lights. I was sitting on my girlfriends roof on Atwood the other night and saw 10 riders go past–5 going the wrong way down Atwood, only 1 of the 10 with lights (he was going the right way down).
I think it is great that there are so many new riders, but I see so many that have no clue how to protect themselves (I feel like a lot of peope in Oakland honestly don’t know).
Lou, I’ll come by and get some guides, I have to come down and get my new membership anyways (because my postal carrier hates me).
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