E-Bikers, A Few Etiquette Improvements

I was going up a hill with many other riders in the area. Passing some when I heard a woman on a 3 wheel trike yelling to move over to get past. So a bunch of us put in the extra effort to move out of the way only for her and her partner following her to come past using motorized ebikes (motors fully engaged). Maybe ebikers instead of demanding others get out of their way especially on extra wide 3 wheelers could just fit in while the rest of us under our own power make it up the hills. Instead of expecting us to put in extra effort to allow them to motor past us. I think there needs to be some rules of etiquette going forward for ebikers.

This was not a couple who had special needs for a motor assist. They just chose ebikes to make RAGBRAI easier for them

This topic was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  mootsman.

67 Replies

Brady Bisgard, August 2, 2019 at 2:23 pm

There’s no reason to discriminate against them. Just have someone say on your left and if they’re an e-bike who cares.

Everyone on RAGBRAI needs to learn to get further to the right – so many left side loungers this year.

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BarryTantlinger, August 2, 2019 at 7:52 pm

Did she actually tell you to move over or did she say, “on your left”? “On your left,” “on your right,” or occasionally “up the middle” when people are riding two abreast in the middle of the road are just meant to signify you are passing on that side, not to move over.

Maybe we should start saying “passing hold your line”,,,

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LawnchairMan, August 3, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Unfortunately I think there will always be some lack of courtesy or bike etiquette whether it is an e-bike or human powered. It may stand out more with trikes since they demand more room.

On the last day I was out early as usual and was about to announce “On your left” to pass a group of four on standard bikes. They just casually started turning to the left just in front of me. None of them had a thought to look behind to see if the lane was clear. I think there was a convenience store there, but I’m not sure. Another day I came up on a few riders where one was to the right and the other hugging the yellow line. I announced “Coming through the middle”, and it worked. The guy even said something like “good job”. Several other times two riders would space themselves to take up the whole right side of the road.

So, yes, we could use more courtesy with all styles of bikes.

I am curious, though, about whether in the case cited there would have been enough room for a two wheeled bike to pass without yelling. There are also times when two wheelers have to wait for space to pass. Trikes shouldn’t expect a clear road all the time.

Sorry if this doesn’t belong in this thread, but going early I see several bikes without lights. I usually start at 0530 when it is still dark. How can you see the pot holes in the road? What happens if you go down and take down another rider with you? It’s just foolish! Use lights or wait for daylight.

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mootsman, August 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

I think some may have missed the point here. Like on many hills there are riders passing riders who are passing other riders, etc… All normal for RAGBRAI. And how you word it is just semantics.

Unless I’m feeling poorly I pass 95% of the riders on RAGBRAI especially on hills. But on a hill (or flat really) if there is no room for riders to move over I just wait until there is. They nearly always move over without a word from me when the space to their right clears.

But someone under motor power can go much faster then nearly all riders up hills. Why shouldn’t they wait for the road next to the riders to clear just like the rest of us. We are supposed to get out of the way now of riders too lazy to self power? Is that the new normal? This is just an example of “purchasing” speed instead of earning it. Those of us that trained up to it know better. Sure a few self=powered are too quick to speak. But you don’t hear from the majority of us who are polite and wait for the most left riders to have a clearing to move right.

This reply was modified 4 months ago by  mootsman.

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hnschipper, August 5, 2019 at 3:43 pm

I’m a slower rider. I heard this from riders on regular bikes far, far more than anyone on an ebike (meaning someone calling out on your left, meaning get out of my way, even though I was in the middle of passing someone and couldn’t move over right then.) For me personally, this wasn’t an issue of ebikes at all.

This reply was modified 4 months ago by  hnschipper.

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Niles, August 5, 2019 at 7:56 pm

I don’t know what the cause of the e-bike hate. If I were a shrinker, I could make a publishable case study.

RAGBRAI is a ride, not a race. How you finish your RAGBRAI is only your accomplishment, whether you self-powered or not, use you hands, or your feet, or even going backward. If you feel your great effort and accomplishment are depreciated because someone else’s effort, It’s noboby but yourself’s fault. If your friends make you feel so, question yourself why you are attracted to them.

As others have pointed out, e-bike making the greater crime of passing you on the left is just a statistical lie. Get over with it and focus on your own effort.

For disclosure, I ride a non-ebike. I wait for a good time to pass, I also call “on your left” when I feel I have a case to pass you and wish you’ll give me the passing line, regardless you are on a road bike, mountain bike, e-bike, trike, recubent, tandem, roller skates, unicycle.

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just randy, August 5, 2019 at 10:32 pm

People complain about e-bikes.
Yet there is no way to measure the fast riders who passed you only because they sagged on the team bus each day to the meeting town and had fresh legs from riding only half of the miles.
We were amused when we saw how many bikes were on one of the well known bandit “fitness” team buses as we rode into Chariton.
These little gems put things into perspective . . . . . . . . .

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Cory Rood, August 6, 2019 at 5:32 am

when i call out ‘on your left’ i dont neccessarily want you to move right. im just making sure you know not to move left.

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hnschipper, August 6, 2019 at 7:21 am

when i call out ‘on your left’ i dont neccessarily want you to move right. im just making sure you know not to move left.

There are certainly hose who are saying this just to let riders know. Then there are the riders who scream this repeatedly when there is no room on the left to pass because I’m in the middle of passing someone. They are the ones who seem to mean get out of my way, lowly slower rider.

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T. Gap Woo, August 6, 2019 at 8:16 am

when i call out ‘on your left’ i dont neccessarily want you to move right. im just making sure you know not to move left.

Thank you for confirming what I wrote on a prior thread.

“On your left/right” is not unique to Ragbrai. I have heard other cyclists call this out on the Delaware and Lehigh Canal Trail between Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia PA, the Pine Creek Trail between Wellsboro and Jersey Shore PA, as well as along the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Trail between Pittsburgh and Washington DC.

Occasionally, this call-out doesn’t work. I’ve encountered walkers on the Trail who either have ear buds jammed into their ears or are so engrossed with their cell phones that they don’t hear a call-out. A simple honk on my ooga horn from about 25 yards away gets their attention!

I never use the horn up close to alert a cyclist, as this may startle them into doing something foolish or dangerous. I use the horn to chase critters off the path and to bring smiles to the kids and senior citizens along the Ragbrai route.

BTW, the Ragbrai survey just came out today. Please be sure to complete it, venting your spleen and singing praises on all manner of topics. This helps the DMR make Ragbrai a better experience for us all.

See you along the I-O-Way next year.

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George Anderson, August 6, 2019 at 9:20 am

Why is it that a percent of the RAGBRAI population feels when the faster riders say on your left they take it in a negative way?

On one of the bike trails, I ride here in here in Illinois when I say on your left to cyclists, joggers and walkers most times they say thank you. It is purely a courtesy communication to them to let them know you are passing. Nothing more, and nothing less. On RAGBRAI it has to be communicated at a louder level and sometimes harshly due to the crowd noise but that does not mean the intention is “get out of my way”.

Lastly, I will say that if you are slow you should never be within 3 feet of the left shoulder. You are just asking for trouble because there are always fast riders on that side. That is where they live. If the faster riders rode all over the road then the slow riders would really complain about safety issues. Most fast riders know where they belong and that is on the left. Many slow riders need to realize where they belong and that is center-right. If you are slower you should wait for an opening in the middle or right to pass, not go to the extreme left, especially on a hill.

This reply was modified 4 months ago by  George Anderson.

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hnschipper, August 6, 2019 at 9:28 am

Why is it that a percent of the RAGBRAI population feels when the faster riders say on your left they take it in a negative way?

On one of the bike trails, I ride here in here in Illinois when I say on your left to cyclists, joggers and walkers most times they say thank you. It is purely a courtesy communication to them to let them know you are passing. Nothing more, and nothing less. On RAGBRAI it has to be communicated at a louder level and sometimes harshly due to the crowd noise but that does not mean the intention is “get out of my way”.

Lastly, I will say that if you are slow you should never be within 3 feet of the left shoulder. You are just asking for trouble because there are always fast riders on that side. That is where they live. If the faster riders rode all over the road then the slow riders would really complain about safety issues. Most fast riders know where they belong and that is on the left. Many slow riders need to realize where they belong and that is center-right. If you are slower you should wait for an opening in the middle or right to pass, not go to the extreme left, especially on a hill.

Slower riders do sometimes pass riders riding slower than them. Yes, sometimes this pushes us clear out to the left in heavy traffic. I’m not going to ride much slower than my regular pace just because passing someone would make it so I have to go far to the left to pass.

And most of the time, on your left means just that. It’s those who come up behind me screaming repeatedly on your left when there is no left at that moment due to heavy traffic that I feel it means move the heck out of my way and not on your left.

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KenH, August 6, 2019 at 10:25 am

On your left is not unique to cycling. I don’t know who originated the term but I do know that the first time I heard it was at the Jackson Hole ski resort in Wyoming in the 1970’s. I was taking a cross trail to get from one chairlift served area to another and for the very first time ever I heard a voice behind me say “on your left”. Skiers will weave to control their speed so it is especially appropriate as a warning to another skier you are overtaking but as I say, I do not know when it originated or in conjunction with what activity.

Some percentage of slow riders take on your left negatively because very, very clearly some percentage of faster riders use it negatively! I have nothing against the use of the term. It is the attitude and the behavior that underlies its usage by some fraction of riders that I object to. That usage has no place at RAGBRAI or at other rides that are like RAGBRAI. And faster and slower are relative terms. I’ve heard fairly slow riders screaming on your left at someone in front of them too. It is just the wrong attitude to have at RAGBRAI.

I noticed more ebikes at RAGBRAI this year because discussions here put me on the alert about them. So far they are not causing any issues any more than any other rider who is faster than me. Yes, I was passed on several successive hills by the same woman on an ebike. She was probably roughly my age. I was passed on those same hills by younger women on human powered bikes but it was a different woman on each hill because unlike the ebiker they were just riding at a faster average speed. I don’t know why the ebiker was slower on the downhills. I didn’t notice that she was actually just that on hill after hill she passed me on the uphill.

I have yet to see an ebiker riding at a speed significantly faster than young, fit riders on regular bikes. The day will come however and then some time later the practice may become common enough that something will have to be done about it. It wasn’t this year.

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jay williams, August 6, 2019 at 11:22 am

In a previous post, I observed that e-bikes insidiously lead people to ride above their skill level. And above their manners.
While grinding uphill in a paceline, I also moved over for the electric tryke pilot who kept yelling “on your left”. Non-handicapped, just didn’t bother training. And totally clueless about other cyclists. Is this the future of Ragbrai?

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LawnchairMan, August 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I had been guilty of misusing the term “on your left”. I first heard the term when I started riding with a club. It seemed that it was a notice of intent to pass, and if the rider in front had room to move to the right he/she should. Riding Ragbrai my announcement seemed to fall on deaf ears, so I would say it louder. Later I learned that it isn’t a request for the lead rider to move, it is just a statement of intent to pass. This year I said “On your left” a few times, but I usually just go far left of the center line to where I know it is safe to pass. A couple of times, though, I said “Could you move to the right please?” I tried to say this politely, and thanked riders who did move. As I said in another post I also announced “Coming through the middle” once, and I had to slow to make sure the other riders knew I was coming. I take each situation as a unique event and look for the best outcome. If I have to wait for a space, then that is what I do. None of us should expect to have an open road at all times, whether we ride a human powered or electric powered bike. Just make sure to pass as safely as possible.

Oh, I just remembered why I didn’t just go far right all the time. This year is the first time I saw rumbles at the center line. I didn’t like crossing those, so I would tend to stay right of center. I hope those rumbles are not the future.

This reply was modified 4 months ago by  LawnchairMan.

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