PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK

Biking etiquette, common sense and not being stupid.

I have ridden on several Ragbrai’s and it seems to me that after 2 days of 2016’s ride, the quality or etiquette of the riders has diminished. I have had very few people announce “on your left, “rider off” “rider on” “Coming left” etc. And the number of people riding into and around Creston after dark with no reflective accessories on their bikes, and no lights. In town, many are riding 2-4 abreast, and some are riding on the wrong side of the road. Some are taking the lane through town, and I know they have that right, but add 15,000 riders doing the same thing, with out of town people driving support vehicles, and locals trying to drive around to”check things out” and it seems that you have a recipe for mishaps. Not good manners, not smart and definitely bad PR to the non biking community. or,….maybe it is just me.

31 Replies

Michrider !!!, July 26, 2016 at 5:49 am

Tom, If common sense was common, everyone would have it!!! I wish I was in Iowa this week!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care, LOL!!!!

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Katharine Farnham, August 3, 2016 at 10:39 am

There was a lot of bad riding this year. Riders straddling the yellow double line chatting, going slow while on the yellow line forcing people to pass on the right. Cyclist constantly ignored car back and car up calls. And the most arrogant one was when a police officer told riders to dismount and walk bikes across the tracks. One guy decided he was better than the rest of us, he rode his bike around the officer and peddled on. Unbelievable.

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LawnchairMan, August 5, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I agree that there was a lack of cooperation this year. I came up on a lone guy just to the right of the yellow line and announced “On your left.” He didn’t move to the right. I repeated with no response. When I raised my voice, “Please move to the right!” he just sat up and looked around like he couldn’t tell who was talking. I crossed the yellow to pass him. There were several riders three abreast on the right side of the road. I got tired of saying “On your left!” falling on deaf ears. I just started passing on the left of the yellow line.

I know this is dangerous, so I was very careful to watch for oncoming cars. I think this is safer and less frustrating than trying to educate careless riders.

I saw a couple of pacelines and considered latching on, but decided to keep my distance instead.

I am convinced that people just start riding without reading any of the Ride
Right suggestions or warnings. I re-read them every year. I just don’t get some people’s kids!

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powellpd, August 6, 2016 at 6:12 am

I was very surprised as a first year rider that other riders were not calling out when they were passing. Even though I stayed fairly close to the right side they would pass on the inside and never say a word. Several times I told them they needed to call out. Also, I felt the entertainment went on too late in the evening. I would go to bed early 9:30-10:00pm and could still hear the music. I thought since this was a challenging ride, it would be “quiet time” around 9:00pm so people could sleep. Just providing a suggestion. I loved this experience and am glad I was there. All of the towns we visited were just wonderful and welcoming. I enjoyed a number of Church meals and hope they all continue to provide this for the riders. Can’t wait to see the 2017 route. Do we really have to wait until January?

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Sunny Carithers, August 6, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Lawnchairman, I apologize if I was one of the riders that may not know the ride right rules.
I’ve riden 3 ragbrai’s now and didn’t realize that if someone yelled “on your left”, that meant I am supposed to move to my right to allow you to pass.
I thought it was meant as a warning to me that they were passing me on my left and I should hold my line and not veer left.
Question, what do I do when there’s someone on my right and I can’t move over to allow you to pass?
My riding position is typically on the right side of the road unless I’m passing, which is often.

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Niles, August 6, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Allow me to say to opposite thing. I DON’T want to hear the “on your left” warning when I’m the only one or two riders on the right side of the road and riding in a straight line, while you have the WHOLE left lane for you to pass. Warning is reserved for warning purpose. Your being-nice “on your left” is really annoying in this scenario.

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KenH, August 6, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Actually, “on your left” does not mean “get out of my way!”, it means that you are about to pass me on my left. Doesn’t matter where I am on the road, especially at an event as crowded as RAGBRAI. If there is plenty of room to my left I don’t move over either, I just assume I should not move to my left! It is only when traffic has forced me to the far left side of the left lane that I will try to move to the right when I hear the “on your left” call behind me. But it will take some time to make sure it is safe to do so.

It is only when traffic is light that I move over as far to the right as I can after passing someone. If I do that when traffic is heavy then all the faster riders behind me are going to box me in behind the slow riders we are all about to overtake. If I can see that I will soon be passing more riders ahead of me then I just hold my line. If you are faster than me you can pass me on my right if there is room or on my left where there is plenty of room almost all the time.

RAGBRAI is so crowded that I only call out “on your left” when I am going to have to pass fairly close to someone. A lot of the time no on can figure out who is the target of an “on your left” call anyway and so we just assume that someone is always on our left unless a glance back or in our mirror reveals that there is no one there. So rather than calling out “on your left” a thousand times a day to people who won’t be able to figure out who it is intended to warn until they actually see someone passing to their left, I slow down and wait my turn if necessary and then pass so far to their left that there is no need to warn them.

If you are behind me and call out “on your left/right” then I will generally make a gesture with my left or right hand to let you know that I heard you and that you can safely pass to the side that you called out. If I’m riding a hilly gravel loop on a hot day when the gravel is loose enough that is takes too much energy to ride through it then I will keep to the packed tire tracks like everyone on skinny tires. But I will keep an eye on the riders behind me and when I see you are about to overtake me then I will move over into the loose stuff which my wide tires can easily handle even when my tiring legs would rather not so you can stay on the packed track where your skinny tires feel more comfortable.

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Michrider !!!, August 7, 2016 at 7:15 am

During RAGBRAI, I prefer to talk and/or sing, loud enough so I can be heard. I agree with Ken, “on your left” tends to be annoying!!!! If I talk to people, just say hello, good morning, etc, riders will know where I am. If your lucky, I just might sing my medley of Barry Manilow songs!!!! I plan to work on my Manilow song book for 2017!!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!!

#1165957

powellpd, August 7, 2016 at 8:24 am

The issue of how to safely ride on the road with other riders during The The riding safety rules for
RAGBRAI has been addressed by the Register who are the ones who have supported this ride for 44 years. We all have previously ridden and some participants with biking clubs, organized groups, or on our own. Because of our various riding habits such as passing, stopping etc, I believe it is in the best for all that we follow the policies established by the Register during their organized ride. I found this on their site under The Ride section. “Call out to fellow cyclists when you are going to pass on the left or right or up the middle, or are pulling off or pulling on.” In other areas on the site this policy is described in more detail. There are so many riders involved in riding the RAGBRAI, on the first day it was over 19,000, we should try to always follow what the Register is asking us to do for the sake of safety. This is not our own personal ride where we get to do whatever we want.

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Brian Wallenburg, August 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm

I for one find it incredibly annoying when riding near people that are constantly yelling about rumble strips, on your left, on your right, slowing, right turn, left turn, stopping, gravel on the road and on and on. If you’re on RAGBRAI, you’ve regular come across these things. If you want to warn others, just warn the ones that are close by. No need to yell loud enough to reach those 1/4 mile ahead and behind you. I’d take loud music over yelling any day.

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“Bicycle Bill”, August 7, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Michrider said:
During RAGBRAI, I prefer to talk and/or sing, loud enough so I can be heard. I agree with Ken, “on your left” tends to be annoying!!!! If I talk to people, just say hello, good morning, etc, riders will know where I am. If your lucky, I just might sing my medley of Barry Manilow songs!!!! I plan to work on my Manilow song book for 2017!!!!

Manilow may have “written the songs” (actually, “I Write The Songs” came from Bruce Johnston and was originally written for the Captain and Tenille), but that doesn’t mean you are able to sing them .  One of these years I will have to challenge you to a karaoke-off.

-“BB”-

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Michrider !!!, August 7, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Beebs, I don’t sing well, just loud!!!!

#1165963

JLVanPelt, August 7, 2016 at 5:13 pm

I agree that on your left (or right or center) either is for those that have demonstrated weaving, drifting or needs a heads up that someone is passing close by. It doesn’t mean move over. If you want by, you should say “hey rider in the _____jersey, can I get by on your left?” And then give them time to make sure they’re clear to move. Honestly, I was more concerned with two way traffic and just things that shouldn’t be on the road: free water bottles handed to riders who litter on the road for someone to hit wrong, dogs in Burleys, people who couldn’t hold a 3mph or better pace on a climb and yet rode between lanes, people who are willing to take out ten riders vs ride over the rumbles (although a couple sets of rumbles were truly dangerous), riders who decided to walk and came to a dead stop in the center lane, etc. I get that life goes on and people need to get places but when two semi’s are both up and back, it’s just asking for trouble. If RAGBRAI riders can’t be accommodated for a dedicated lane of traffic or routed somewhere that they can, then I vote we don’t travel that way in the future. I would happily add mileage to achieve safety. I also think RAGBRAI needs to figure out enforce things that are for our safety..I am all for freedoms but if you’re endangering others by toting a dog that you’re not strong enough to get up a hill, handing out bananas to active riders, etc, there should be an intervention.

#1165966

Brian Wallenburg, August 7, 2016 at 9:07 pm

handing out bananas to active riders, etc, there should be an intervention….

Couldn’t agree more, stop and get your free banana or water, then dump your garbage in the trash, it’s not a race.

#1165991

Jack in VA, August 8, 2016 at 12:58 am

This was my 16th, and there has always been a problem with people moving over towards the center line and staying in the oncoming traffic lane – even when the whole right lane is empty and free of cyclists. Not that big of a deal if it isn’t too crowded, but throw in the hills that we had for the first three days, and it does become a big problem when you’re going downhill a bit faster than those who are riding three abreast in the left lane and carrying on their own little conversation – leaving little more that one bike width to pass on the far left side. TOO many times, people would pass others on the left, and then just stay there, instead of working their way back over to the right.
We all need to get into the habit of keeping towards the right – especially if you’re going down the hills. I always assume that there is someone who is riding faster than I am, and they’ll need room on the left side to get by.

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