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.