It’s OK to wave

This morning I was out on the bike and passed a fellow cyclist coming against me on the road. No cars were passing and as our paths crossed I gave him the cyclists wave. A quick flick of the wrist whilst raising the index finger slightly higher than the rest. I also gave him the cyclists eyebrows. A quick flick of the jaw in a slightly upwards motion whilst also raising my eyebrows about 5mm. This was in preference to the cyclists ear. A 30 degree jaw movement to the left whilst also raising the left ear and lowering the right in a swift movement that has everything back in its original place within 1.2 seconds. I also included a verbal ‘Howaya’, with the ‘ya’ part raising in tone towards the end.

The response that I received was unusual, in that there was none. It must have taken more of an effort to ignore my gesticulations than it would have taken to acknowledge them in any shape or form as my fellow cyclist concentrated on uncomfortably ignoring my friendliness. Then I remembered. The same guy blanked myself and Anthony last week in more or less the same spot.

Cyclists should acknowledge each other. Maybe this guy was afraid to wave. There is no need to be, well, not in Ireland anyway.

 

 

 

 

During my first few weeks living in New York a number of years ago now, I remember well one incident that occurred when it may not have been appropriate to wave. Driving down Flatbush avenue in Brooklyn in a big 5 litre Ford Econoline panel van with my new boss Timmy the plumber riding shotgun I was just pulling away from a set of traffic lights when I absentmindedly saluted another similar van coming the opposite way. Timmy the plumber almost lost the plot. He animatedly asked what the hell I was doing and suggested that I floor it. I was a little confused but obliged as that was what they do on the movies and we were in New York after all.

 

After about 5 minutes of constant mirror monitoring and changes of direction, Timmy calmed down and I asked what the story was.

 

He asked why I waved the way that I did at the other van. I replied that it was force of habit form back home. You see someone driving a similar vehicle and wave just in case you may have bumped into them in the garage when you were making the purchase. Also it was the norm to wave at pretty much anyone coming the opposite direction. I didn’t see any problem.

 

Timmy the plumber had a slightly different take. My wave, as it was only half hearted and almost just a reflex action consisted of a barely raised hand from the steering wheel with an outstretched index finger. The thumb had raised itself voluntarily and that type of wave on Flatbush avenue in Brooklyn towards a White Panel van with three occupants with skin a lot darker than mine wearing what looked like womens’ tights over the tops of their heads could be seen as a sign of aggression in the form of mimicking the shape of a loaded gun towards a group of Gangbangers.  Timmy fully expected a return wave of an Uzzi Sub-machine gun or a sawn off shot gun. Luckily neither happened.

 

So, whilst there may be occasions when it might not be the wisest option to wave it really is OK to wave when you meet another cyclist coming against you. I promise that you won’t get shot. Well hopefully not anyway.

 

Barry

www.thecyclingblog.com

 

14 thoughts on “It’s OK to wave

  • November 7, 2015 at 11:41 pm
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    proper order I commute during the week with full weather clothing and none of the racing cyclists respond to my waves or salutes it gets better at the weekends when I have the correct clothing on as I get some responses to my salutes , I also drove motorbikes and had the same reaction from fellow motorcyclists .Drawing on my experiences over the last twenty years I have come to the conclusion that unfortunately dickheads can buy bicycles and motorbikes and until the government legislate against this I would suggest that you keep waving and laughing at those who don’t reply

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    • November 8, 2015 at 7:46 pm
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      Racing cyclists should acknowledge all types of fellow cyclists Michael……That legislation would be an interesting request come election time 🙂

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  • November 8, 2015 at 1:02 am
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    Fully agree, the majority of cyclists when passing each other are what can only be described as rude by not saluting. I like to try to warmly acknowledge any one I pass even the foot-slogging runners and pedestrians. It’s nice to be nice!!?

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    • November 8, 2015 at 7:40 pm
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      It’s nice to be nice should be everyones motto on the road. Well said Brian.

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  • November 8, 2015 at 11:59 am
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    must be a modern day thing.i am back cycling now after a15 year absence and find a lot of cyclists and big club groups don’t bother to reply to an hello or a friendly wave.

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    • November 8, 2015 at 7:42 pm
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      You were too fast to notice back when you were racing Damian 🙂

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      • November 10, 2015 at 7:42 pm
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        I wil have to get fast again Barry to keep up with ur old friend Mark Gater ouy on the spins. A great blog u have by the way Barry.

  • November 8, 2015 at 2:14 pm
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    Well as a novice cyclist if you pass me on the road , and you don’t wave . You better watch out. I am normally the loudest shout at other people or groups . We need to have fun at all times.

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    • November 8, 2015 at 7:44 pm
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      You’re not a novice anymore John, and that big smile and wave you always give other cyclists must surely get a good response 99% of the time

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  • November 9, 2015 at 8:29 am
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    I generally try to wave…unless completely shelled out the back of a “red” (fast Orwell) group! However I recently did the Rebel Tour and the most extraordinary thing occurred in my 15+ years of cycling: I pulled alongside a rider and said “nice day, how are you going”. He looked at me, said in “do I know you”. I said “No, I’m Kieran, nice to meet you”. He retorted “I don’t speak to strangers. Drive on there now”. However, it was only a minor blot on an otherwise fabulous cycle, and all of this guy’s fellow Corkonian’s were unbelievably friendly and justifiably proud of the cycle and scenery.

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  • November 9, 2015 at 2:22 pm
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    Maybe he had a row with his partner and was kicked out of the bed any how it’s nice for a bit of acknowledgement

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  • November 10, 2015 at 11:45 am
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    I too am a chronic waver. I wave at anything on any type of bicycle – it’s a solidarity thing. I wave at runners and joggers – I consider this a professional courtesy. I wave at retirees working in their gardens and schoolkids waiting for the bus – for diplomacy and goodwill. I do the same for patient drivers who pass me safely after waiting for the oncoming traffic to clear. I’ve even been known to acknowledge cattle – I chalk that one up to the positive disposition brought on by time in the saddle. Keep spreading the joy, and be an ambassador for the sport!

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  • November 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm
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    Yep, compulsive waver here too. Just check – yes, I did write ‘waver’ – that’s good.

    It could be that I’m pathetic and desperate for a little bit of human attention (or perhaps I’m merely being friendly) but I’ll wave at anyone I think might appreciate it.

    It’s disappointing when one’s greetings are reciprocated but it’s one of the many things we have to forget quickly to avoid becoming a bitter twisted shell of a person. All we can do is try to focus on the majority of ‘acknowledgers’ who make us feel good.

    The grumps who don’t tip a hat, smile back, chirp out a pleasant greeting etc. are stuck being like that; We only have to put up with them in our lives for a second or two.

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  • November 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm
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    Oops! Typo above. I meant “aren’t reciprocated” in my comment above. Dammit! I knew I’d get at least one thing wrong.

    Reply

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