Thursday, July 27, 2006

No, your OTHER left!

Exactly how does a person handle skills requiring coordination—walking, riding a bike, etc.—when they don’t understand fundamental physical concepts such as left and right?

I swear, when I call out, “On your left” while riding Anchorage’s paved trails, 40 to 50 percent of the people I encounter respond by immediately moving to their left! When you factor in the 10 to 15 percent who don’t respond at all because they’ve rendered themselves deaf to the world with earbuds or headphones, that leaves a piss-poor chance of actually opening up passing space on the left side of the trail.

Maybe I should adopt a habit of calling out, “Passing on whatever side your fat ass ain’t blocking!”

But that might be interpreted as rude.

And we all know what a congenial guy I am.


daveIT said...

I need to ride my singlespeed sucks pulling little pieces of pedestrian out of my derailleur and stuff after I run them over.

Shawn Kielty said...

I was going to say something Daveit -- but now I am laughing very hard --

Mike said...

I know what you are saying, the people aren't any different down here in Virginia. Another factor that gets thrown in here is the children of those idiotic pedestrians. Teach your children NOT to run out in front of the speeding biker. I have come up on children that are 3/4 to 1/2 a mile from their parents just running wild.

Side note: I was born in Soldonta, AK. My mom still lives on the Kenia peninsula and owns two beauty shops there, Tyna's and Tyna's Two. Anyway, I hope to go visit her someday and bring my bike with me. I've hiked Alaska trails before but never biked them.

Eric said...

I hate it when that happens! And it has happened everywhere I have lived and bikes with two notable exceptions...Germany and Boise, Idaho.

In Germany I would call out "Am links!" ("On Left") or "Fahrrad" (bike) and people would move to the edge of the path (their right) and usually give a nod, a wave, or a hello as I went past them in safety for us both.

Boise, when cycling the beautiful trails and paths by the river, I rarely had a problem. I used two things there the classic "On your left" call which usually worked very well. Off the trails though, the same warning usually caused the pedestrian to jump straight into my path.

I found though that a whistle or bel worked far better. A short whistle seemed to make them jump off the path, or at least to it's edge. I would think the whistle (which I started using in D.C. traffic as a courier) was more rude, but I only very rarely got an angry reply to the whistle, usually even getting a wave (hmm was that the middle finger wwave?) as I passed.

Tim said...

There's good ridin' on the Kenai, Mike. Get up here with a bike, man!

Doug said...

I gave up up yelling "on your left" in just the past few months. Too many people would step to their left when I yelled. Now, if I have the room, I just go by unannounced and take the chance of startling them as I go by. I'm glad to find out I'm not alone in witnessing this behaviour.

Phil B said...

There is a very solid explanation for this phenomenon.

It has to do with the way that the brain interprets what it perceives as a command. When we come up on someone, particularly someone who has not ingrained the standard rules of the road on the trails the statement "On your left" is interpreted as a command to move to the left rather than a statement that you'll be coming around on the left. In their defense, these targets simply can't help themselves. In a way it is like Pavlov's dogs...

There really is not too much we can do, other than really confusing everyone and saying "On your right" to get the left opened up or just aim for the center in hopes of spitting them down the middle.