A simple act of roadway courtesy

I have always believed in riding courteously, remembering that sharing the road is a two-way street. And that I have no less — or greater — right to it than anyone else.

So I didn’t think twice when I pulled up to a red light at a narrow intersection, and noticed the car behind me had its blinker on. I simply lifted my bike and made a couple quick sidesteps to the left so he could get by and make his right turn.

What happened next surprised me, though.

As he rolled past, the driver lowered his window, waved and said “Thank you; thank you very much” — sounding so much like an Elvis impersonator that I could barely keep from laughing.

Still winded from the sprint that got me there, the best I could manage in response was a nod and a smile, combined with a friendly wave. But he got the idea.

And just for a moment, we truly saw each other, not as adversaries competing for the same limited piece of pavement, but as real human beings.

Whether he’ll remember that the next time a cyclist is blocking his path, I have no idea. Or whether I will the next time an impatient driver follows too close or cuts me off.

But it only took a simple act of roadway courtesy, and its acknowledgement, to make me truly visible to another road user. And to lift my spirits for the rest of my ride.

And the rest of my day.


Enci Box makes the case against Class 1 bike paths. L.A.’s best bike plan probably isn’t the one LADOT proposed; meanwhile, LADOT pleads poverty as an excuse not to attend future Bike Advisory Committee meetings. Will Campbell Embraces the Brilliance on a recent ride near Jefferson and Crenshaw. Flying Pigeon explains how to make your own Jasbeschermers clip; if you can pronounce it, you probably already know what it means. Making negligent driving fatalities a crime in the DC area. Bike Portland offers an in-depth examination on the lack of bike insurance. A candidate for mayor of Columbia, MO says vote for him “Because most Columbians drive cars and not bikes.” Denver lowers speed limits and adds bike lanes and traffic calming to around Washington Park (see LADOT? It can be done…). Hagerstown, Maryland includes cyclists in designing their new bike plan (see LADOT? It can be done…). The Orlando newspaper wants to know if cyclists have a right to the road. A look at 10 years of bike culture in America. Your Japanese-made bike now probably comes from China, but look for an increase in U.S. made bikes. Cycling casualties — serious injuries and deaths — in the British city of Leeds increased 10% in 2008; somehow, that works out to a fifth, according to the headline writer. Finally, this is why you never leave your sleeping children in your bakfiet; evidently, that’s just what they do over there. But at least the thief was honest responsible.


  1. Good on you! I’ve executed that same maneuver to give room to pass and it never ceases to amaze me how many motorists just sit there and don’t make the turn. It’s almost gotten to the point when one does I want to thank them!

  2. TheTricksterNZ says:

    Yeah, I try and do the same thing when I can. Most drivers here take advantage of it, but only once or twice have I been thanked.

  3. […] from around the network: Bike Portland has a guide to bicycle insurance options. Biking in LA writes about the power of simple courtesy on the road. And The City Fix takes on the thorny issue […]

  4. […] from around the network: Bike Portland has a guide to bicycle insurance options. Biking in LA writes about the power of simple courtesy on the road. And The City Fix takes on the thorny issue […]

  5. Digital Dame says:

    That happened to me one time. I scooted up and over a bit, although the driver really had plenty of room to get past me in the right turn lane as it was. I think he was just afraid to get too close, thinking I hadn’t realized he was there. But like your situation, he actually thanked me. Ever since then I’ve been really conscious of doing that.

  6. […] the most part do get along. As an example, my friend Ted Rogers at BikinginLA recently related a simple act of roadway courtesy that paid wonderful dividends. And you can bet if my camera’s rolling when something good […]

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