Every so often while cycling, I find myself in one of those unclear situations where maybe I should say something. And maybe not. Some of those situations are dangerous or have the potential to be. Others are personal and might be embarrassing either for me or the other person. Here’s an example of the potentially embarassing kind.
I am riding toward work at about 8:30 a.m. A big, muscular guy rides past, going fast in his fancy riding kit, black helmet, red and black cycling jersey and very bright and very worn red cycling shorts. So worn that I can see his entire butt, just as if it were unclothed. It’s entirely academic whether to say anything, as he is very quickly well past me. Suppose though that he had stopped for a light and I pulled up beside (or behind!) him. Just what would I say? “Hi, your shorts are worn very thin and they’re not really covering your butt?” Something more (or less) “polite” than that? If it were me baring my ass to the world, I’d like someone to let me know! I’d be mortified but would make sure to replace those shorts as soon as I could.
Note to self: check rear view in bike shorts every so often, especially as they get older.
Here’s two of the potentially dangerous sort:
While riding in heavy traffic behind John, he is pedaling next to a large pickup truck. He and the truck start passing the entrance to a shopping center parking lot and the truck’s right turn signal comes on. The driver starts turning right, directly at John. He’s about to get right hooked. I yell, “Truck turning!” and John looks over, though really there’s little he could do at that point. I think the driver also heard me, because he stopped turning until John safely passed. What else could I have yelled to be more likely to get the driver’s attention?
One other example:
Making my way along a one-way city street, I am about to get hit by a driver who without signaling pulls away from the right hand curb. I am far enough into the lane to avoid dooring but that’s not going to prevent this SUV from hitting me. I quickly calculate that my bike’s bell would be unlikely to get the driver’s attention, especially with the windows closed. “Hey!” I yell as loudly as I can. Seems lame, although it works. This time. What else could I do?
Does it help to yell in these situations? Would both of these drivers have stopped in time without the warning yells? Could I have called out something more effective? Should I wear a loud whistle? What do you think works best to help avert these unforeseeable collisions?